2 decades after putting her in ice skates, Brooke Avery’s father is the reason she still plays hockey

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Deb Avery needed to go to T.J. Maxx. Her husband, Curt, figured he’d tag along but had no intention of actually shopping.Curt grabbed his skates, two sticks, and a puck. Not far from the retail store in Gilford, New Hampshire is an outdoor hockey rink, right on Lake Winnipesaukee. Deb dropped her husband and two-year-old daughter, Brooke Avery, off at the rink. Long past his competitive playing days, Curt enjoyed every minute of it.“When you grow up a hockey guy, it’s like the rink is in your blood,” Curt said. “It’s a place you always go to, and that lasts for life.”Avery wanted to skate, but she was too small. She could barely walk. Curt figured if he put his skates on his daughter and pushed her, she might relax until Deb came back.“I would’ve never because my back was killing me, but it was the only way to keep her happy,” Curt said. “She wanted (to be) on those skates instantly, and it’s been like that every day since.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTwenty years later, that two-year-old daughter is a redshirt senior forward and alternate captain for Syracuse (4-10-1, 4-3-0 College Hockey America). Avery has 10 points through the first 15 games of the season, the third most on the team. But less than a decade ago, it was Avery’s father that kept her from quitting the sport.“I have to put the pressure on myself to be someone that people look up to,” Avery said. “That’s something my dad has always taught me.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorGrowing up, Avery said she was one of the bigger kids on the ice. She hit her growth spurt faster than many of her male teammates and opposition. They began to catch up around middle school, and Avery said the game became frustrating.Avery was ready to drop the sport after eighth grade. She had no desire of playing in high school and never even thought about college. But her dad refused to see his daughter quit the sport he’d been playing for the past 40 years.“My dad pushed me to just keep going and keep playing because he knew that I had a lot to offer,” Avery said.Curt never took it easy on her in anything, from billiards to parents versus player scrimmages.  He never let her win.So Avery stuck with hockey. She attended St. Paul’s (New Hampshire) School from 9th through 12th grade, where she played hockey all four years. She finished her career with 80 goals and 77 assists, earning her the attention of numerous Division I programs, including Syracuse.Avery ultimately decided to commit to the University of New Hampshire. She was the only player in the 2015 recruiting class not from Minnesota or Canada. But both her father and SU coach Paul Flanagan believe the decision was driven by familiarity.UNH’s Durham campus is only 30 minutes from her home in Concord. It also gave her the opportunity to go to school with people who she had grown up with.Not long after her commitment, New Hampshire’s coach Brian McCloskey was fired for physical contact of a player during a heated exchange, per the Boston Globe. Hilary Witt, an assistant on the 2014 U.S. women’s Olympic ice hockey team, was hired shortly thereafter.Avery didn’t fit Witt’s system. Her scholarship was not honored, and she didn’t see the ice much her freshman year.Eight games into her sophomore season, it was more of the same. Despite limited game action, she made the 2015 Hockey East All-Academic Team and was recognized as one of the conference’s Top Scholar-Athletes. That put the possibility of transferring to Syracuse back in the picture.“Her decision to come here was driven a lot by (the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications),” Flanagan said. “To be able to be in communications and get a fresh start of hockey.”With a new start meant new sacrifices, both financially and logistically. Curt and Deb sorted out the merit money, loans, and sent their daughter seven hours away to keep doing what she loves.Now in Avery’s fifth year, Flanagan has provided her with more financial assistance. She’s emerged as a core leader for the Orange and continued to maintain high grades as a public relations major.Curt attributes her willingness to persevere to an inherent drive and commitment. Avery points her finger right back.“My dad was the one that drove me to practice every morning at 6 o’clock in the morning when I was a kid,” Avery said. “He has always been my biggest supporter.” Published on November 25, 2018 at 9:16 pm Contact Tim: [email protected]center_img Commentslast_img