Sports Illustrated features rising athlete


Carly Kinning

Playing at shortstop, sophomore Brooke Wilmes anticipates the next play as junior Haylee Towers pitches to a Valley Tigers’ batter. The Dragons started out down by four runs, but were able to put their hitting abilities together and score runs to win the game 9-8 in the eighth inning. The Dragons then went on to beat the S. E. Polk Rams 10-2 in the championship game.

Olivia White, Staff Writer

“Sports Illustrated” magazine featured sophomore Brooke Wilmes in the “Faces in the Crowd” section for her softball accomplishments in the Aug. 18 issue. Starting in the shortstop position, Brooke also drove in five runs, hit a second inning grand slam, and lead the Dragons to a 10-2 victory over S. E. Polk in the state championship game.

Hitting a 0.538 [batting average] this past season, Brooke was named captain of the All-Tournament Team. When Sports Illustrated saw her stats from the state tournament, they then contacted head softball coach Todd Merical and requested to feature her in the magazine. “My parents asked me if it was okay with me if I was in “Sports Illustrated,” and I was like, ‘is that even a question?’” Brooke said.

Word traveled quickly about her appearance in the issue, and soon many people in and around the community knew. “I had people I didn’t know coming up and saying ‘wow, that’s awesome’ or ‘dude you’re a stud,’” Brooke said.

The team was very excited for Brooke’s accomplishment. “When someone on the team achieves something, we take it as a total team achievement,” sophomore Ellie Roquet said. The chemistry on the team was also an asset to Brooke’s performance, since they got along and played together well.

Brooke’s parents were surprised and shocked to see her featured on a national level for her accomplishments, as well excited to buy the issue. “It was such an honor to have Brooke in “Sports Illustrated,” Brooke’s mother, Andrea Wilmes said. “We were so proud just to see all of her hard work pay off, especially at state this year.”

This, however, is not the only state tournament that became memorable to the Wilmes family. In 2009, Brooke’s two sisters, Abbey and Bailey, played in the state softball tournament for Johnston as well. In the state championship game Johnston’s opponent was Waukee, and Waukee’s coach at the time was their mother, Andrea.

“I just remember my mom getting really emotional about it, and it was a big deal,” Brooke said. Abbey and Bailey took home the state title that year, defeating Waukee.

“My mom was so happy for my sisters, but at the same time, her team just lost so she was in a tough spot,” Brooke said. “But ultimately it was an amazing day, and everyone was happy.” The family affair has only made the girls compete at a higher intensity, and overall more successful.

As another softball season comes to a close, work for next season and the road to state has already begun. Brooke and her teammates are already working in the off-season, in anticipation of another successful season.