By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Brooke Coggins can pelt a softball. And, she’s using her ability to get an education and, at the same time, break down some boundaries.
The Swain County High School senior and EBCI tribal member signed a letter of commitment on Thursday, May 3 to play softball next season at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. She will not only be the first Eastern Band Cherokee to play for the Lady Vols softball team but the first American Indian period.
“I feel very grateful for the opportunity that Coach Ralph (Weekly) and Coach Karen (Weekly) have given me,” said Brooke. “I can’t believe it. I feel so humble and grateful for it.”
Brooke’s mother Collette said, “It’s awesome. She’s worked so hard for so long that it’s just a proven fact that if you pursue your dreams they do come true. She’s worked hard for a long time and she’s finally made it.”
Toby Burrell, Swain softball coach, said of Brooke, “She’s been a tremendous player for us all four of her years, and we’re just tickled to have had the opportunity to coach her. She’s a very coachable young lady. It’s been a lifelong dream of hers to play at UT, and it’s just such a tribute to her that she continued to work toward that goal. She’s worked extremely hard.”
Burrell added, “I am happy for her. I think the Weeklys are getting a tremendous player, and they are going to make something really big out of her before her four years at UT is over with. I’m just happy that she’s continuing her education. That’s the biggest thing.”
Brook has a .392 career batting average at Swain and was a part of four Smokey Mountain Conference championship teams. According to the school, she recently became the fourth Lady Devil in history to amass 100 career hits.
The University of Tennessee softball team has co-head coaches in Ralph and Karen Weekly. As of May 3, the Lady Vols were 22-6 and in second place in the SEC East behind Florida. They are set to play in the SEC Quarterfinals tournament on Thursday, May 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.