Jenna Bruick building legacy on, off field
For Bryant head softball coach Debbie Clark, junior Jenna Bruick embodies everything she wants in a player — and more.
The second baseman is a selfless, tireless worker whose "contribution to our program cannot be measured by stats or words," Clark said.
"Jenna is fearless and does not accept failure as an option."
As one of the "fab five" freshman from the squad two years ago, Bruick, 16, helped lead Bryant to a state championship last year.
Bruick serves as the lineup's leadoff batter and second baseman. Through 14 games and 44 at bats, she compiled a .341 batting average with an on-base percentage of .396, scoring 16 times on 14 hits and four walks with only six strikeouts.
"What I don't have numbers for is how many times she has worked a pitcher into a frenzy, fouling balls off and off and off. She knows what a quality at bat means to our team," Clark said.
"She is so good about coming to the dugout and telling her teammates what the pitcher is throwing. She gets to be first to face the pitcher, and she embraces that role."
Still, Clark is more impressed with what she does off the field and how she composes herself on the field.
Using her favorite term of endearment, Clark described Bruick as a true "BEAST," an acronym standing for best, extra, attitude, student and teammate: five characteristics she stresses to her team.
"Jenna always gives the team and me her best. No one would ever be able to tell if she's having a bad day or game, or doesn't feel well," Clark said. "Jenna strives to become better than she is and, as a result, everyone around her becomes better, too. Jenna knows what she is doing, she loves what she is doing and she believes in what she is doing.
"Jenna has high expectations for herself and her teammates."
Clark said, "Her attitude sets her far above the rest of the pack."
Bruick, who turns 17 this week, is the daughter of Debbie and Kevin Bruick, and the sibling of older sister Katie and younger brother Ben.
She started playing softball at the age of 4. Considering her father played baseball, her mother played softball and her sister played softball, Bruick said the decision to play softball "was just kind of an automatic thing."
"I can't describe how lucky I am to play for the Lady Hornets," she said. "I love playing softball, I love both of my coaches and I love my team."
Bruick added, "Though everybody doesn't get along 100 percent of the time, we always have a lot of fun together. Nobody is really shy on the team; you can't be. We're loud, goofy and really weird. We always talk about how we need to have our own TV show, because it would be hilarious."
Bruick played volleyball in the past, and said she plans on joining the cross-country team.
Clark said, "Jenna works hard and smart," adding that she "has attended camps, watched DVDs and put in many hours of extra practice, especially with her Dad."
Bruick said her father is her softball "hero."
"He has coached me for as long as I've played softball, so he always knows exactly what I'm doing wrong," she said. "He spends so much of his time, and I'm really grateful to have somebody like him.
"He's the most amazing person I know, in and out of softball."
Last year Bruick received the team's "Hornet Award," Clark said, "because of her attitude and willingness to work, and for the respect she shows to her coaches and teammates.
"She is the first to encourage her teammates and the first to celebrate their successes."
Bruick plans to attend the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. While "not positive" of her career plans just yet, she said she would eventually like to study zoology in Australia.
"If that doesn't work out, possibly architecture or psychology," she said. "I would love to travel all over the world."
Her favorite subjects in school are student senate, human anatomy and world history.
Clark said, "Jenna understands the responsibility of a student-athlete. She knows her education is a priority, and her grades reflect that image. Jenna is preparing for her future by her commitment in the classroom."
Clark said, "Jenna's scope of influence extends beyond our softball team. Jenna is proud to be a Bryant Hornet and supports other teams and organizations.
"She has the ultimate school spirit and bleeds blue and white."
Bruick said, "My favorite things about softball are the feeling you get when you make a diving catch or get a really good hit to win the game, and when your team comes together to win a close game against a good team."
Clark said, "She is not afraid to dive and get dirty, and go home with grass stains on her uniform."
She said, "Jenna is honest, selfless and willing to do what is best for the team.
"Her goal is to be able to play wherever her team needs her.
"Jenna's character is an example to the team, and I use her actions and work habits as an example of what I, as a coach, desire from a player. She is non-judgemental and can work with any teammate. Jenna is empathetic and knows how to offer constructive criticism."
Bruick said, "Cassidy Wilson and I always describe softball as a love-hate relationship. When I'm playing awful or I let my team down, it's the worst feeling in the world.
"But those moments when you make a diving catch or win a really close game make it worth it."
Bruick said her favorite softball memory was winning a national championship with her summer softball team at Panama City, Fla., in 2005.
Clark said her second baseman will always hold a special place in her heart.
"She will leave a legacy that will not be easily duplicated, and we will miss her tremendously when she graduates," Clark said.
"Every coach should be as lucky as I am to coach Jenna," she said, adding, "I can honestly say that I am a better coach, person and mother because of Jenna Bruick."