LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) – From an early age, Bellarmine forward Brooke Valentine learned the importance of blocking out the crowd. Valentine, the daughter of former Louisville Cardinal Robbie Valentine, said paying attention to the crowd is a pet peeve of her father’s.
But no matter how hard she tries, there is one voice she always hears loud and clear.
“At the last home game, I missed a lay-up,” she recalled. “It got quiet. Then I heard him say, 'she missed.'”
The voice came from her two-and-a-half-year old son Trey. He’s the reason Brooke plays and for a while, the reason she didn’t.
“I found out (about the pregnancy) early on. I don’t think I cried until I got home,” said Valentine. “It was scary. I’ve never gone my life without playing.”
Her basketball career at Southern Indiana was put on hold just three games into her second season. She gave birth, left school and began life as a new parent along with her now Fiancé Lawrence.
She thought her playing days were behind her. But no matter how hard she fought it, her love of basketball never left.
Last summer, Brooke took a job of as a counselor at a basketball camp. It was there where the wheels of a comeback were set into motion.
“I was interested in it but I had no idea it was a possibility.”
It was. Brooke’s uncle put her in touch with Bellarmine head coach Chancellor Dugan. After talking it over, Dugan invited Brooke to join her team, stressing the importance for Brooke to finish her education.
“First and foremost, I think that’s the most important thing, it’s that she’s going to graduate from Bellarmine,” said Dugan. “Basketball is a means to an end.”
Getting back in shape was not easy. She hadn’t played since early in the 2013-2014 season but she was determined to finish what she started when she began college, fresh out of Jeffersonville High School.
Brooke would lose 35 pounds, all the while vowing to never let herself get out of shape again.
But if Brooke thought the struggle was over once she got in shape again, she was greatly mistaken. Her life now is more hectic than ever. She’s a student, she’s an athlete and she’s a mom.
It’s not easy but she knows she’s not the only one who will benefit from her hard work.
“It’s cool that he can look back when he’s older and see that I’m doing it all for him.”
And she hopes one day, it will be her, cheering on her son, being that one voice, impossible to block out.
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