Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Brooke inducted into RHS Athletic Hall of Fame

Brooke Vessey ('07) was among the inductees during last week's Redlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony. One of the youngest inductees in Hall history, Vessey was a dominating athlete in water polo and swimming during her days at RHS.

REDLANDS >> Brooke Vessey hasn’t been gone for very long. She graduated from Redlands High School in 2007.

But her resume as a swimmer and water polo player at RHS and at San Diego State made her a natural selection to be an inductee at the Redlands High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Still, she was shocked when she got the call that she was being considered for induction.

“I think I am the youngest one,” Vessey said. “It surprised me so much. I was really struck by it when they asked to look at my resume. I just graduated seven years ago. Being so young, that is why it is such a great feeling to be here.”

This year’s Athletic Hall of Fame Class also includes Wayne Braga (‘51) and his sons Dennis (‘73) and Matt (‘76); Richard ‘Red’ Simmons (‘56); Dan Finfrock (‘64); and Sami Grisafe (‘03).

The induction ceremony was held Thursday in the Orton Center on the campus of the University of Redlands.

“This is so amazing,” Vessey said. “To be as young as I am and to be inducted, I feel blessed. I felt happy that they thought I had done enough to be a part of this.”

Vessey’s water polo career at RHS is one of the school’s most successful. She was a CIF-Southern Section Division 5 Player of the Year (2006-07), a Citrus Belt League Most Valuable Player and a four-time RHS Most Valuable Player honoree.

In swimming, Vessey was even more of a dominating figure. She was the Coca-Cola Citrus Belt Area Female Athlete of the Year in 2007 and the school’s Athlete of the Year in 2007. She was undefeated in the 100 fly and 100 backstroke during her four-year stay and was a three-time CIF Masters finalist.

In all, Vessey led RHS to eight Citrus Belt League team championships.

“There is such great tradition here at Redlands High School,” Vessey said. “I loved it here. I think a lot of high schools wish they had what we have here. The tradition is special. We need to keep special.”

Vessey, however, has moved on with her life and career. She retired as a competitive, everyday athlete, and is now the strength and conditioning coach at San Diego State.

It was a natural move, Vessey said.

“Now, as a college coach, I have a different view what it is like for athletes,” Vessey said. “I can take all that I experienced and put it into coaching.”

Vessey has learned much about fitness and conditioning. But in high school, lifting weights was not a part of her athletic agenda.

“I never lifted in my life while I was at Redlands,” Vessey said. “It was very rare for me. If I knew then what I know now, I definitely would have done it more in high school. But looking back, you can do more. I did what I could with what I had.”

Vessey and the inductees visited with RHS athletes during an afternoon tour of the campus.

Like it has been for many previous inductees, talking to current high school athletes was a special moment for her.

“I really enjoyed it,” Vessey said. “Sharing my experiences with them was really nice. I talked to them about what they can do if they have dreams after high school and how to get there.”

It was Vessey’s first visit to the RHS Hall of Fame room.

“I had never been there,” Vessey said. “I had never seen it and I didn’t even know it existed. I thought it was great. I hope I can give back and make it even better.”

Brooke's Speech in 6 period to all the athletes on campus at Redlands High School