A small town girl with big-time dreams
Former A-C Valley standout Brooke Irwin making her mark in academics and athletics at Allegheny College
This article is part of a continuing series on athletes who graduated from high schools in Clarion County.
By Nate Steis
For the CLARION NEWS
Over time, the town of Emlenton has continued to shrink in terms of population, but the small town continues to produce great athletes, some of which who have continued their athletic careers in college like Allegheny College sophomore Brooke Irwin.
Being from Emlenton, Irwin attended Allegheny-Clarion Valley High School in Foxburg and at A-C Valley, Irwin was a three sport athlete, participating in golf, basketball and track and field.
Irwin believes each sport allowed her to gain important skills that she still uses today, but Irwin admits that basketball was actually the one she spent the most time playing through her life.
"I would travel to my older brother Brody's Clarion Rising Star AAU basketball games when I was younger, and that fueled my love for basketball," Irwin said. "I also played several years in the Clarion Rising Star program. I think playing basketball taught me how to be a part of a team as well as the important components of running including being able to perfect proper footwork and having a fast reaction time."
Playing basketball for the Rising Stars as well as for A-C Valley made her a better competitor overall which prepared her for the environment surrounding a track and field meet or invitational.
"Playing travel basketball in so many different cities and tournaments over the years was an eye opening experience," Irwin said. "There is great competition out there, but it was awesome that our team was competitive and could win tournaments. It showed myself and my teammates that we did not have to be from a big area to compete."
While basketball was Irwin's first choice, it quickly changed once she competed in some of her first track and field meets.
Irwin's best event is the 400-meter dash, but she has also competed in the 200 meters as well as some relays.
As a high schooler, Irwin had some tough luck when it came to competing in the District 9 meet.
She did not compete in the meet in two of her four years of high school, but this did not stop colleges from reaching out to her because of the consistent times she was running.
As a junior, Irwin finished third in districts in the 400-meter run and it was at this point that Iriwn was beginning to look more into her college offers for track and field.
Once she was contacted by Allegheny, learned more about the team, and saw all of the academic benefits of being a Gator, Irwin knew it was the right fit.
"I like Allegheny because the school requires students to pick a major and a minor to be more well-rounded," Irwin said. "I am studying biology but have a minor in economics. I plan on going to veterinary school, but I think having a background in economics will be something that helps me down the road as an adult."
It was in ninth grade when Irwin realized that she wanted to be a veterinarian. Growing up, she was always surrounded by animals. She has been a dog owner all of her life, and she has been around deer for most of her life because her uncle owns a deer farm. She has been shadowing several veterinarians from around Western Pennsylvania including vets in Saegertown, Conneaut Lake, and several around the Clarion area.
Irwin's passion for helping animals and being around athletics are two attributes she admits her family too has always been passionate about. Irwin stems from a very athletic family as her brother Brody was a star basketball player for A-C Valley in addition to her family members Tim Orton, Levi Orton, Patrick Irwin, Dan Irwin, Bill Irwin, and Anita Irwin who have all been great athletes, coaches, and athletic administrators in Clarion County through the years. In addition to her extended family, Irwin lists her parents as the two who have been key in helping her achieve everything she has ever set out to do.
"My parents traveled so much with my brother and I in order to succeed in basketball," Irwin said. "They took me to so many practices with my speed coach and trainer in order to help me become a college athlete. I am so grateful they have supported me and pushed me to improve in everything I do."
Looking back at some of her favorite memories from sports, she lists being able to play basketball in Chicago as well as winning the KSAC South championship in basketball as a senior as her favorite memories. Irwin hit a buzzer beater to win the KSAC South crown, and admits it was one of the most exciting games she ever played in as a District 9 athlete.
With three full seasons remaining in her college track and field career, Irwin is hoping to continue to help the team the best she can. She has been a part of an NCAC champion medley relay team, but hopes this will not be her only NCAC title during her career with the Gators. "I really just want to remain healthy, continue to work hard in the weight room, and be a great teammate. I believe if I do all of those things, the results will take care of themselves." Irwin said.