Brooke Smith is in a totally different world.
But the 2015 Croswell-Lexington High School graduate is enjoying every single second of her new experience.
Smith, the former Times Herald Volleyball Player of the Year, is in her first season at Grand Valley State University.
Smith has found a role an instant role as an outside hitter for the No. 23 ranked Lakers.
“The biggest change is probably the competition level and the different coaching styles,” Smith said. “I love being able to play. I came in freshman year with the mindset that if I get court time that will be awesome. I will take any time I can get. I feel grateful and blessed.
“I really like the challenge of playing against better players. It only makes me better. It’s always fun going against girls that are two or three years older than me and preparing my best to play. I feel like volleyball is a game of experience and the more experience you have, the better the court awareness you have.”
Smith has been a starter and key contributor for the Lakers (13-7), which are coming off of a pair of victories. They will return on Friday against Hillsdale in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown.
“We would like to accomplish and do what we did last season and go even further,” Smith said of the Lakers, which advanced to the Division 2 Final Four last year. “Making it all the way to nationals and to the Final Four is our goal and ultimately the goal is to win nationals.”
Smith also hopes she can continue playing at a high level and improving on and off the court. She seems to be off to a good start. She has already chosen to major in exercise science and hopes to become a physical therapist.
“I think I have improved all the way around as a player,” Smith said. “Playing in college is a whole new experience. As you increase your experience level your volleyball IQ grows. I want to continue doing that and enhance all of my skills.”
Last season, the Lakers had a lot of experience in their line-up. After graduating several key players, it left a void that Smith helped step in to fill.
“We had a spot open and it was my position to lose,” Smith said. “I had to step up this season and come in ready to show coach I could handle playing six rotation outside and so far it is going well.”
Contact Joseph Hayes at (810) 989-6268 or at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @jhayes1136.