BOONE — Standout student-athlete Brooke Byrd didn’t miss many varsity events in her four years on the courts at Watauga High School.
Byrd, a graduating senior, earned the Hall of Fame Award May 14. The award is given to the top female athlete at Watauga.
Byrd was a four-year starter for the Watauga volleyball and girls’ basketball teams. Byrd helped lead Watauga’s volleyball team to four straight Northwestern Conference championships. Watauga’s girls’ basketball team also won a NWC regular-season conference championship in a league with teams that have won state titles in the last five years.
“It’s definitely a major honor,” Byrd said. “Especially with all this craziness going around it’s lifted my spirits for sure. I definitely could not have done it without my teammates and my coaches, the community and the fans.”
Byrd did not get a chance to participate in her third sport: track and field. She is a sprinter and a high jumper on the Watauga track team, but sprained her ankle late in the basketball season and didn’t get to participate in the Pioneers’ first track meet.
“I got to do about two practices and that was it because of the COVID virus,” Byrd said.
Byrd’s performances in volleyball and basketball spoke volumes to make up for any opportunities lost with the track and field season. Byrd played a major role in Watauga volleyball’s 26-1 overall record, which included a 12-0 NWC record and league championship in 2019.
Byrd finished with 371 kills, which was second to fellow senior and close friend Rebekah Farthing’s 377 kills. Byrd also was second to Farthing with 180 digs. Farthing, who with Byrd was dubbed “the twins” by track and field coach Randy McDonough, because of the pair’s similar athletic abilities, their familiar blonde hair and because of their friendship, had 189 digs.
Basketball was another sport in which Byrd excelled. In leading the Pioneers to an 18-9 overall record, 8-4 in the NWC in the 2019-20 season, Byrd averaged 10.1 points per game and pulled down 134 rebounds from her guard position.
She was also a key element in Watauga’s 1-3-1 zone defense. Byrd was the first player opponents had to get past. Byrd did not steal every pass, but her leaping ability made it difficult for opponents to set up their offense.
Byrd appreciated the coaches of volleyball, Kris Hagaman, and basketball, Laura Barry, for giving her and Farthing a chance to be in the starting lineups of both teams as freshmen.
“I guess you would call it confidence, because my coaches wouldn’t play me unless they knew I could handle the job,” Byrd said. “We had to work harder than anyone out there on the court and I think that speaks volumes for the coaches for volleyball and basketball. Having the faith and trust in us that we both could play, maybe not like a freshman but as a junior or a senior showed a lot of trust from the coaching staff.”
The COVID-19 virus has presented Byrd with an early retirement from athletics. Her post-high school plans do not include collegiate athletics, but they do include studying nursing at Appalachian State.
She’s also been working out on her own to help her stay healthy during the recent two months. But not having a prom to attend or a traditional graduation ceremony was not the ideal way for her to end high school.
She said the workouts, which also including lifting, helps keep her “sane right now.”
“I was injured, so I was ready to get back out there,” Byrd said about missing the track season. “I was still extremely upset. I was coming off an injury and I was excited for the start of track season and that was taken away from me and then school ended shortly after that. I was like, well, my whole life is different now.”