Young athletes with a thirst for competitive sports usually find somebody who inspires them to be the best they can be.
For Brooke Batt that person was international Paralympic swimming star Katarina Roxon of Kippens.
Batt, an 18-year-old graduate of Appalachia High School in St. George's, is a rookie with the Memorial Sea-Hawks varsity women’s swim team that competes in Atlantic University Sport.
Batt got her start in swimming at the age of 11 with the Aqua Aces swim team in Stephenville where she got to share the pool with Roxon, who was much older, and just beginning to develop into an elite competitor.
It was a small group that trained together and they became a close family when she was coming up through the ranks with the Aces on the provincial scene.
Batt had watched how Roxon was able to always stay focused and keep a positive attitude as she went about her business.
More importantly, Batt appreciated Roxon's friendly demeanor and willingness to help and support her younger teammates any way she could.
“She would encourage us and push us to keep going,” Batt said of Roxon’s influence on her early development. “Just seeing her success and how she kept going was something.”
Life as a Sea-Hawk is proving to be a tough challenge for an athlete who had to get past some nervousness in the outset because it was a little scary going from a small club where you recognized everybody’s face to a competitive environment where some of the best swimmers in Atlantic Canada were ready to push her in a way she never experienced before.
The soft-spoken science student, who is looking at a career as a pharmacist, is settling into life as a student-athlete where she’s trying to keep a good balance between a hectic training schedule and busy times in the classroom.
She’s no longer worried about being the new person. She has been welcomed with open arms and now has a couple of teammates who have become her friends away from the pool.
She knows there will be some challenges, but that’s to be expected so she’s just going to keep focused on what has to be done to improve as a swimmer and also keep up good grades on the academic side of things.
If it gets tough, she will remember that the best swimmers in the world have to go through ups and downs to get where they wanted to be.
When it gets bad, she can always look back on the career of her role model to know good things come to those who push forward and believe in what they are doing.
The girl who always loved the water is feeling at home with a great supporting cast. Just like it was when she was a budding swimmer with the Aces looking to find a way to bigger and bigger things.