Recent Athens graduate earns All-State recognition for soccer play

By: Mark Vest | Troy Times | Published July 1, 2019

 Brooke Russell kicks the ball for Troy Athens this past season. Russell was recently named All-State for her play.

Brooke Russell kicks the ball for Troy Athens this past season. Russell was recently named All-State for her play.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

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TROY — Brooke Russell recently learned that she had achieved one of the highest honors there is in high school sports.

She was named first team All-State in Division 1 for her play with the Troy Athens soccer squad this past spring.

The recent Athens graduate learned of the accomplishment via a text message from Athens boys and girls soccer coach Todd Heugh.

“I was really excited,” Russell said. “I remember I had like the biggest smile on my face. I texted my parents.”

Russell played as a defender for Athens. As a junior, she was an All-State honorable mention.

For as lofty of an accomplishment as it is to follow that up with a first team selection, Russell said the achievement “almost humbles you in a way.”

“I think because you figure out that other people are seeing how hard you’re working,” she said. “I think that outside of sports, if people are noticing how well you’re doing in something, it helps you to keep on doing what you’re doing, to keep continuing and doing better for yourself.”

Heugh reflected on some of Russell’s accomplishments.

“Defensively, she was stellar,” Heugh wrote via email. “Brooke is quick, strong and very smart. She also figured in quite a bit of our scoring, as she is dangerous on set pieces.”

Russell’s soccer skills have given her an opportunity to play at the next level for Grand Valley State University.

“I’m really excited,” Russell said. “I’m a little nervous, but I think it’ll be a really good experience. It’ll be a different type of soccer, but I’m really excited.”

Russell added that she’s looking forward to the step up in competition from the prep to college ranks.

“It’s just a whole different environment,” she said. “I’m excited to create new goals and reach those goals now that a chapter of my life has ended and another new one is beginning.”

For all the great things that could be ahead, Russell fondly recalled what is now her past with Athens.

“I didn’t play my freshman year, but it was probably the best three years of soccer that I’ve enjoyed,” she said. “It’s completely different from club. … I think high school brings a more relationship-based type of play, where you’re with these girls for three months straight, and you just build such a closer relationship with them. I think that’s what makes it more enjoyable for me, because I’m able to get to know everybody on a more personal basis than I would outside during club (season).”

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