Driven: Brooklyn Fox has developed into leader for girls lacrosse team

Published 2:37 pm Monday, April 11, 2022

By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier

Not many athletes go from gymnastics to lacrosse, but that’s exactly what senior Brooklyn Fox of West Forsyth did when she was in the eighth grade.

And she’s gone from a novice in lacrosse to cashing that in by signing a National Letter of Intent to play in college next spring at Lenoir-Rhyne.

“I just needed a sport to do,” Fox said. “I quit gymnastics…It just went from there. My little sister (sophomore Bailey) played, so actually they didn’t have enough players…so I had to sub for her team, and I had no idea what I was doing.”

Other than playing alongside her sister, there was another key reason for choosing lacrosse over gymnastics.

“My body hurt so bad (from gymnastics),” Fox said. “It kind of still does. But I just needed something else, and my best friend (junior Leah Meyers) quit gymnastics with me. So, we both went to play lacrosse because my sister played it. Yeah, we were just trying different things.”

Flash-forward to today where West Forsyth is 14-0 overall and 9-0 in the Central Piedmont 4-A. And Coach Doug Brawley couldn’t be more proud of how far Fox, who plays midfield and defense, has come in the last four years for the Titans.

“When she arrived at West in the ninth grade, she obviously showed a lot of potential,” he said. “Her effort and her drive to succeed is like no other. She is her own biggest critic. She pushes herself hard to always do the best. And that over the last three years has paid off.

“I personally think she could play lacrosse at any college in the country — Division I or II — it doesn’t matter. She’s got the drive, the attitude, the work ethic. And the game of lacrosse can be taught. Those other things can’t.”

Brawley also has to remind Fox to be cognizant of all the bumps and bruises she’s had in both gymnastics and lacrosse.

“She’s definitely one, she’ll tell me she’s hurt, and she’s like, ‘But I can go. I’m fine. I’ll be fine,'” Brawley said. “And if you don’t keep a close eye on her and communicate with her, I think having developed the relationship that she and I have that she is open with me, and she tells me what’s hurting and what’s not. But in every sentence when she says something’s hurting, she’s going to follow it up with, ‘But I’ll be fine.’

“So, you have to realize the longevity. If she gets further injured for one game and I lose her for the next two, well that’s not very good coaching.”

Brooklyn Fox. Submitted photo

Perseverance has always been a part of Fox’s makeup, but it has been challenged, especially with COVID-19 canceling most of her sophomore season, and having a constricted schedule last year.

“I was clueless (when she first started at West Forsyth). I was kind of nervous,” she said. “But I wanted to learn.”

Along the way, Fox learned what to do, and what not to do, on and off the field.

“My freshman year, I did get moved up to varsity towards the end,” she said. “And my sophomore year, the seniors were not the friendliest. So, whenever I see people who are younger than me, I always try to make them feel welcomed and help them out.”

Fox is also a co-captain along with senior Jaylah Gray.

“I think like starting lacrosse, I started on a club team, and there were a lot of people better than me,” Fox said. “They’re not going to pass to you. Stuff like that. And I think just having someone to speak up is important because a lot of times kids are not going to say anything, or don’t see anything. I think you need somebody to get your team together.”

Not only is Fox a leader for the Titans, she has more than proven herself as a player.

“She’s one of the strongest, the best players I’ve ever coached,” Brawley said. “She can shoot. Her stick skills would allow her to play either end of the field, anywhere on the field. Her strength, actually literally how strong she is, how fast she is — those things really help her shine on defense. Her ability to handle the ball, to guard an opponent regardless of their skill — those are the reasons she probably navigates toward the defensive end.”

Playing defense is where she’ll be playing next year at Lenoir-Rhyne,

“We run her at midfield, which means she plays on both ends,” Brawley said. “She does score in games here and there, but she’s not one of the people we depend on the most on the offensive end because she brings so much to the game defensively. She’s our No. 1 draw-control person.”

Fox hasn’t had to score goals for the Titans because they’ve been so dominant. They’ve outscored their opponents 196-55.

“I’m more of a defender,” she said. “I’m not a big scorer. That’s not my specialty, really.”

No matter the sport, it’s hard to get a player out of the mode that you have to be a big scorer to be a top contributor.

“Brooklyn is willing to do whatever I ask,” Brawley said. “She wants to play. The love of the game is what motivates her. But she doesn’t get caught up in who’s scoring the goals. It’s a plus. And her attitude has spread out on the entire team. Nobody on team is into goals. They’re very unselfish. They pass to each other. They’re looking for what’s best for the team. It’s actually one of the things I’m proudest about for this year’s team.”

That speaks volumes since the Titans lost four seniors from last year’s team. They have eight seniors this season.

“For myself, I want to be a good role model and leader for other people,” Fox said. “And I just wanted to be the best I could. I want to have fun.”

Part of having fun with the team this season is getting to play with her sister, as well as Meyers.

“We (Bailey) worked together a lot, especially on the draw circle, trying to communicate where it’s going to go, who it’s going to,” Brooklyn said.

Brooklyn and Bailey are only about a year and a half apart in age, so they have a decent sense of the other is thinking, or is going to do.

“I think it does make a difference,” Brooklyn said. “Sometimes I tell people I can’t tell what they’re doing, but most of the time we are able to determine that without saying anything.”

As a coach, Brawley sees the dynamic that the sisters have as refreshing.

“I have three seniors this year whose little sisters, younger sisters, are all on the team. And they’re on varsity,” he said. “I think there’s two sophomores and a junior, and then I’ve got some other siblings on the way…So, that just gives me personal pride that parents appreciate what we’re doing as a program and continue to send their children to us.”

Brawley sees the relationship on the field between Brooklyn and Bailey to be more than just sisters.

“They’re best friends,” he said. “They run together. They play together. You can tell they’ve been throwing and catching and working together for the last four or five years. Both of them start for me. And they work great together.”

Brooklyn plans on relaxing and recuperating from an ankle injury she has during spring break.

Brawley instructed Fox not to play lacrosse during spring break so she can heal for the stretch run of the season.

“I told them, ‘I better not hear about you playing lacrosse this week,'” he said. “Because they need to heal. Just like the whole team, there’s bumps and bruises. We play three games a week.”

Fox and her teammates will return to practice on Monday to prepare for their big game next Tuesday against Reynolds at the Bolton Complex. West Forsyth defeated Reynolds 10-9 in Clemmons on March 24 in the first meeting.

“It is a very big game,” Fox said. “I really hope we keep the momentum up during break and not get out of it. I know it’s only a week.”

In addition, West Forsyth finishes the regular season with two more games next week — at Glenn on April 20 and at East Forsyth on April 22.

After next week’s three games to conclude the regular season, the conference tournament is the following week, and the NCHSAA Class 4-A state tournament starts May 3.

“(The rivalry with Reynolds) is definitely one of the biggest ones that we’re involved in,” Brawley said. “The girls know each other. The go to school at Career Center together. They play summer ball together…It makes you want to play that much harder, to get bragging rights for the next year.

“I think in our last three games versus Reynolds, all three of them have been decided by one point.”

But is it too much pressure the remain undefeated while realizing that winning the state championship is the ultimate goal?

“I don’t think it adds pressure,” Fox said. “I think if anything it, people are more relaxed. People are a little bit too relaxed sometimes, but we work to get back up once we need to.”

Brawley knows that filling Fox’s shoes next season will be a difficult task.

“You’re not going to replace people like Brooklyn every day,” Brawley said. “They don’t come along that often. Drive, effort, attitude and love of the game is what really motivates her. And it doesn’t take much for me to get her going wide-open.

“Next year we’ll have to look. We’ll have to figure out how to fill the hole that she will leave. She’ll definitely leave some very large holes on our team, especially when it comes to stopping that other team’s superstar, or somebody you need to take control to get the ball back, somebody who can provide the level of defense to change the outcome of the game.”

Fox will be in Hickory in the fall getting prepared to play for the Lenoir-Rhyne Bears. She wants to major in exercise science, possibly becoming a trainer.

“It’s really the only thing, something involving sports,” she said. “I don’t know what else I would enjoy. I’m sure there are other things. I don’t know if that’s what I’ll end up doing, but as of now, it’s how it’s supposed to be.”