Life Lessons, Through Sports

Students were greeted in Chapel yesterday by a special guest, whom Head of School John Packard described as, "an exceptional student and athlete."

That speaker was none other than lifelong Brooksian, Amy Broadhead '94, who was honored for her contributions to athletics at Brooks, and delivered the annual address on Kippy Liddle Day, during which we celebrate the outstanding achievements, accomplishments and character of female athletes at the school.

"I was eight-years-old and living on campus when Kippy Liddle died," said Broadhead during her Kippy Liddle Day speech on April 12. "I can remember the affect that it had on the entire community. It is wonderful that her legacy lives on here at Brooks."

Katherine V. "Kippy" Liddle was a Brooks history teacher, assistant crew coach and dorm parent who died in a 1984 boating accident while protecting the life of a student during a pre-season practice with the Brooks crew team on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

"It is quite an honor to be recognized by the school on such an important day," said Broadhead, daughter of faculty emeritus Ray Broadhead '70, prior to her address on Thursday. "It's wonderful that Kippy Liddle's legacy lives on through this day each year as a moment to recognize strong female athletes, their love of sports and the values that sports have instilled in all of us."

Visit our Athletes in College page to read about all the students who have continued to play post-Brooks.

Sports are something that Broadhead knows inside and out. A three-sport, varsity athlete at Brooks, the Boston Globe All-Scholastic award winner and Eagle-Tribune Athlete of the Year earned All-American status and was named All ISL for four years in lacrosse, among other accomplishments, before going on to captain her soccer team at Brown University, where she also played basketball.

Broadhead was inducted into The Brooks School Athletics Hall of Fame — established to honor those individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the quality and tradition of Brooks School athletics — in 2002. She even has an award at Brooks named after her: The Amy E. Broadhead Award, given to a member of the girls soccer team who "demonstrates a love for the game, a commitment to excellence and enthusiasm for success."

Learn about current Brooks athletes' success in our Winter Sports Awards news story.

Her professional life revolves around athletics, as well. Broadhead is currently the Strategic Business Unit Leader of global apparel at New Balance in Boston, and has held positions at Nike, adidas and Reebok, among other companies during the course of her career.

"Sports have never left me," she told the student body in Chapel on Thursday. "I started my first sport around five-years-old, and have been working in the athletic industry for the past 20 years. If you truly love sports, I don't think that ever goes away."

How do the lessons she learned on the field and court translate to her life today? "I approach most the athlete and the teammate I was several years ago," Broadhead shared. Take discipline. "I still believe, to be truly great at something, you need to put 100 percent into it," she said.

When she was struggling in her classes at Brooks, Broadhead put that focus into play. "My grades were bad, like bottom of the class bad," Broadhead recalled. "My advisor, Mr. Dunnell, pulled me aside and I will never forget this conversation. We looked at my grades together, and he asked me if this was the best I could do. Then he asked me to put half the time into school that I put into sports and we would see what happened. So I did."

Thanks to a study-skills class and nearly two-hour library sessions, she said she "started to get better and better" at her academic work. "Just like in sports, I was putting the time in and I was improving," explained the former student-athlete. "By my senior year, I was toward the top of my class."

The takeaway that she hopes current Brooksians have after her address is a little different, though. "I want them to understand that the journey is not always easy," said Broadhead. "And that participation in sports can help you through tough times now, and later in life."

"I don't think my love for sport was more important than when I was in the seventh grade," she revealed in her speech. "Two eighth-grade girls picked me out as their target for extreme bullying ... I felt alone, confused and there was nothing I could do to change the situation. But I had soccer. And I had basketball. I had a team." Sports, she said, "brought me acceptance when I didn't feel accepted anywhere else."

Today, she equates those bullies with toxic bosses or colleagues. "We have all had them," she reflected. "They try and make you feel small, or dumb, or inadequate because of their own insecurities that could stem from home, or work, or life, or whatever. The experience of being bullied, and having sports through that time, taught me that the tough times will pass; and to focus on the good. And even if you can't control a good portion of what is dished out to you, you can find an outlet that makes you happy."

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