Kathryn Duane ’22

Kathryn Duane ’22

Readers who happened by the Brooks softball field this spring were, more likely than not, treated to hearing the team’s captain and lone sixth-former, Kathryn Duane ’22, vigorously leading cheers for her teammates from the dugout while they were up to bat, or from her spot in the outfield after a key play. Softball is not Duane’s primary sport: She captained the girls 1st ice hockey team and also made key contributions to the 1st field hockey team. She will readily admit that she is far from the best player on the softball team, which sports a talented stable of younger players. Duane is a respected leader, though, because she models care and inclusion. “I try to bring a positive attitude every time I come to a practice or a game,” she says. “I bring a lot of energy to the teams I’m a part of, or at least I try to. I consider myself a pretty approachable person, and I think that making the people around me comfortable lets them relax, have fun and play well. So, if I’m not playing, I’m cheering; if I’m not up to bat, I’m the person that’s keeping everyone going.” 

Duane came to Brooks because she felt a secure, warm and supportive community when she visited. Over her four years here, Duane took the idea of community to heart. She graduated this year as a leader for the 1st field hockey, 1st ice hockey and softball teams; as a Chapel prefect; as a dorm prefect; as a peer advisor; and, as head softball coach Andrea Heinze says, “the glue that holds three of our teams together.”

Duane credits her father, who coached her youth hockey team, with ingraining these values in her. “My dad’s big on respect and discipline, but also on having fun and being a good teammate,” she says. “You want to be someone people respect, and in order to be respected, you have to show other people respect. It’s a two-way street. It’s not just about athletic talent; it’s about how you treat each other, how your team works together. I think that’s more important than wins or losses or goals or assists.”

Her Brooks coaches, Duane says, have been instrumental in her success by being present in more than one aspect of her life. “The really nice part about all three of my coaches here is that they all play a role at Brooks outside of athletics,” she says. “I also see them as dorm parents, as teachers and as adults that I trust. That wasn’t something I expected, to have the adults that I was going to be around as an athlete care as much about me personally and want me to succeed.” Duane served the school as an admission tour guide, and she stressed this on her tours: “Success doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, but academic success, athletic success, artistic success, social success — whatever it is, everyone here wants you to succeed. I really believe that, and I didn’t expect everyone here to care about me as much as they have.”

A Larger Community

Duane has made a name for herself as an athlete at Brooks, but she’s also become a presence in the larger Brooks community as a Chapel prefect, a dorm prefect and a peer advisor. All of these roles gave her an opportunity to strengthen the bonds students and adults have with each other at school.

Duane gushes about her role as a dorm prefect in Hettinger-East, especially the time she spent assisting dorm faculty with dorm duty on Wednesday nights. “I get to be in the common room with everyone and help check residents in,” she says. “I’ve gotten a lot closer with my dorm parents through that, and I love spending time with them. And even when I’m not on duty, I’m hanging out with everyone in the common room. I’ve gotten really close with people I wouldn’t really know otherwise.” Being a Chapel prefect, Duane says, allowed her to play a role in a space that is critical to the entire Brooks community. “I love Chapel,” she says. “We’re all together in, I think, one of the most beautiful spaces on our campus. I think it’s fun.”

Being a peer advisor is especially important to Duane. “Society is leaning toward being more accepting of conversations around mental health,” she says. “I love having the opportunity to be someone people want to talk to or feel comfortable approaching if they have a problem. It makes me happy to know that I’ve helped people with situations that are really difficult. That’s something I’m passionate about, and I look forward to continuing that work in college.”

Next year, Duane will attend Lafayette College. She hopes to study Spanish, which she dove into at Brooks. “Spanish is the subject that I really found myself getting excited about,” she says. “[Lillian] Miller has been such an amazing teacher; she’s kind, and she’s like another mom to me and she cares about me a lot.” Duane says Spanish is important to her because it’s another way for her to communicate with people, break down barriers and continue to build community. She speaks fondly of her time spent volunteering at her grandmother’s church, where she serves as a translator for Spanish-speaking families. “It’s such a good feeling to help make someone’s day, or make something easier for someone,” Duane says. “I think that’s part of the athlete thing: being part of a team, helping to boost someone up.”

As her time at Brooks concludes, Duane reflects on her experience. “High school can be a really hard time for a lot of people,” she says. “There are a lot of changes in your life. You’re trying to figure out who you are, where you belong, what you like and what you don’t like. The way that dorm parents, teachers and other students have been there for me and supported me is unmatched. I’ve always felt like I had someone to talk to, someone there for me, someone who cares about me. I will never forget it. I love Brooks, and I’m really sad to leave.”