Oct. 18, 2013
Leadership takes many forms and Southern Miss Soccer junior Brooke Hendrix has developed into one of the more distinct manifestations, one of equal parts fierce on-field example to be followed and loose off-field source of light-heartedness mixed with community service.
Hendrix is the embodiment of the total student athlete. She brings a positive attitude to the game, produces on the field and involves herself in numerous non-soccer activities off it. And she manages to get a smile from members of the Southern Miss Soccer family in the process.
"Brooke is just fun to be around," coach Mohammed El-Zare said. "She is a relentless worker. Whether conditioning, practicing or playing on game day, everything is always 100 percent. What a lot of people might not realize is she also brings a lot of joy and laughter to everyone around her. She is a joker, a prankster, who brings some fun to the team. She has that dry sense of humor. She will say something and it takes you a second to realize what she said, then it hits you and you can't help but laugh."
"I guess I've become the team clown," Hendrix said. "I try to get a little laugh, a little joke or a prank, here and there. It's good to lighten the mood. Someone has to do it."
Hendrix is quick to point out that she draws a distinct line between when it is time for play and when it is time for business.
"Honestly, I hate to lose," Hendrix said. "On the field, that's what I am thinking about. There's a time for fun and a time to focus on winning. I know where the line is. Let's go win first and then have some fun."
The good times have been plentiful for Hendrix, who is second in Conference USA with six assists and tied for sixth in conference with 14 points. She is also third on the team with four goals.
Statistically, this is Hendrix's best season at Southern Miss but the Sharpsburg, Ga., native does not take much credit for the achievement.
"It wasn't so much anything that I did," Hendrix said. "This year, we've been a lot more about the team and promoting the team environment and teamwork. As the team has gotten better, it has helped me to do better as well. I can't say that I did anything special because the team is really who is doing the work."
El-Zare gives much credit to Hendrix for her development in both skill and leadership on the pitch.
"On the field, she might not speak a lot but she leads by example," El-Zare said. "She's at a point that she understands the level of responsibility that is on her to help us grow as a program. She knows that we are counting on her now and will count on her in the future. She is a fierce competitor who loves the game. If we asked her to show up at two in the morning and play, she'd be there. She has developed into one of our most technically-sound players. We are glad to have her for another year."
Hendrix said she tries to let her ability and attitude serve as her vehicle for leadership and guidance.
"Being a junior, I've learned how things work," Hendrix said. "I am not as vocal during the game. I leave the talking to seniors like Kim Belmont and Danica Roberts. I just try to give it my all, every second, and hope people see it and follow my lead."
In addition to her work on the field, Hendrix is also active in her community, specifically through her involvement with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and First Baptist Church Hattiesburg.
"Brooke is a great example of a young person who gives back to her community, particularly through her work with her church and other faith groups," El-Zare said. "She exemplifies what we want our players to be, total student-athletes."