Interview with Brooke Herring – Local Jr from Victoria BC/ Japan


Can you give us a snapshot of what your early years were like here in Victoria?
From age 6 – 11 I attended Campus View Elementary School and Arbutus Global Middle School. I was an extremely busy child. I did a lot of sports and I had some music lessons as well. My parents had me doing ballet at least 2 times a week, figure skating 5-6 times a week, swimming 3 times a week, squash 3 times a week, and kendo once a week. I always had piano lessons once a week and had to practice everyday and I also had to be part of a ukulele playing group. When I was 12 I was allowed to drop ballet, kendo and ukulele and reduce my skating to 3 times a week so I could play squash 6 times a week. By 14 I was only playing squash and the piano because it was getting harder to keep up in school. However, I was a good A-B student and still am by attending all of my classes and being unafraid to ask teachers questions when I had any. When I was 15 I switched schools from Mt. Douglas High School to SMUS because of the squash program there and because I had won the Brian Graves Award. From there I graduated from SMUS. 

Tell us about your club, the environment and your inspirations.
The Victoria Squash Club was always a homey environment and it was my home away from home. My coach Stuart Dixon and some other players were basically an extended part of my family because I talked to them almost every day. I was inspired by Eric Zaremba and always looked up to him. I also looked up to Nicole Bunyan because Stuart would talk about her often and I it was a personal goal of mine to do just as well or even get better results than she did as a junior.

Did you always love squash? If not, what made you continue? Did you ever want to quit?
I didn’t always love squash. I usually wanted to play games and have crazy rallies instead of doing fitness training such as “pain and torture” so I would say up and down for me. It really just depended on what I was doing and even now I’m still a little bit like this but as I see it now is that being fitter would be I could have more crazy fun rallies.
Did you ever struggle with pressure from your parents or yourself?
My parents were always supportive of my squash life. They never told me that I had to win a tournament or get a certain position. It could also have been me not really caring what my parents thought because when I’m on court I play for myself. Stuart taught me this early on. However, I did put pressure on myself because I wanted to do well in tournaments to make Stuart proud. It’s because he was never at the tournaments and I always wanted to come back to him with good news.

You always look calm and composed so, do you have any strategies for coping with pressure that you can share with others who might need help in this area?
I have gotten this comment a lot throughout my squash career haha. Yes, there will always be pressure whether we like it or not but what Stuart taught me was to focus on the next shot. This also a good tactic when a bad call is made against you and the best way to move on and retain your focus is by focusing on the next two shots that are about to be played. The serve and return of serve. For example the return of serve, where I will try to hit the best straight or crosscourt to put them under pressure at the back of the court and the rally just continues from there and most of what had happened earlier is forgotten in the moment. 

What are your thoughts on early specialization? Is it necessary for squash and going to a University in the States for Squash?
I believe for squash it is a big advantage to have early specialization but it is critical to have at least one other casual sport as well so that the kids can develop better agility, special awareness and strength that will complement the squash game.

What is your favourite Stuart Dixon drill or tip?
The courties. Jokes! Hahaha those were brutal! Two of my favourite drills would be when he feeds me shots and I would be working on a certain shot and my other favourite drill is when he stands in one of the corners and he can hit in anywhere but I have to hit it back to his corner.  Doing that for 3 minutes each corner is tough but the burn is great!

 Why did you want to go to college in the states and play squash there? Did you have a Plan B?
I wanted to go to college in the states because the college circuit there is a much higher quality and is challenging than Canada college squash. My plan B (but my plan A if my parents allowed it) was to take a gap year so that I would still have a full year of junior squash where I could train full time and improve any necessary school marks I wanted to do better on.
Next week, In Part II – Drexel Life, Brooke shares her experiences, lessons learned, coaches, exciting match anecdotes, being a part of a women’s team, etc. She also provides 7 great pieces of advice for those juniors considering applying to a college in the states to play squash. 
 Thanks for sharing Brooke!
You have put in a lot of time and effort into your squash. You were a very busy girl growing up! All those activities required a lot of focus on your part and that absolutely shows when we watch you out on the court. I personally really enjoyed the advice Stuart gave you and I really appreciate you sharing it. Playing for yourself and having the ability to focus on the next shot. These are great mental skills that hopefully other young (and old) players can begin to incorporate to their tool box as you have done. 
 Stuart is extremely proud of what you have achieved and we can’t wait to see more! 
You are an inspiration to many girls out there who want to follow in your footsteps! Congratulations on being a great role model.
Weekly Slice #4 –