Serena Brimacombe is walking across the street next year to play field hockey for the University of Michigan. And while the talented Pioneer senior won’t have far to travel she understands that the level of play will be a million miles away from what she is used to.
“Yeah, I go and watch their games and wonder how I am going to fit in,” she says with a smile. “It can be a little intimidating. How am I ever going to be that good?”
Brimacombe is already pretty good which is why Michigan came calling in the first place. And a former Pioneer believes she will “fit in” just fine with the Wolverines.
“Serena will be a great player here and we can’t wait to have her,” says Maya Gompper, who went to Pioneer and made that short and long and successful trip across the street to play field hockey at Michigan. Gompper, now a junior at U-M, talked last year about taking that road across the street.
“Yeah, there is an adjustment going from leading your team at Pioneer and being one of the best in Ann Arbor to coming into a program where everyone is at that level or higher,” she said. “You need to relearn your role and be a good teammate when you are no longer a captain or a top goal scorer. You need to learn to be a good teammate and not only learn your role but be very good at your role because it’s important.”
But before Brimacombe begins that incredible journey, she has some unfinished business at Pioneer to tend to. First things, first. And first on her to-do list is to win a state title.
“Winning a state title this year is a big thing because Pioneer has won a lot of state titles in the past, but we haven’t won one in the last few years so we really want to get one this year,” she says. “This is my third year on varsity and we came up short the last two years.”
Huron, a team the Pioneers beat 3-0 on Monday, has won the last two Division 1 state titles. Dexter and Saline also have strong teams this year but Pioneer – as usual – should be right in the mix at the end.
“We have a lot fewer returning varsity players than we have had in the past so we have a lot of younger and newer players this year,” says Brimacombe, who is one of the team’s captains this year along with fellow seniors Elizabeth Kreske and Lucy Scott. “It’s been a process of how we work together and play together as a team.”
Because of the young roster, Brimicombe and the captains – sounds like a good rock band name – have taken on bigger leadership roles. And the Pioneers have been improving all season, and like most teams coached at Pioneer by Jane Nixon, are peaking at the right time of year.
“We only have four seniors so yeah we have to be the leaders but the underclassmen are really doing a great job and they too have stepped up and become leaders as well,” she says.
Brimacombe started playing field hockey in third grade – and she didn’t really have a choice.
“My mom used to play field hockey in college and she told me that I was going to start playing and she was going to be my coach,” she says laughing. “I was like, OK, I don’t know what that is but sure.”
Brimacombe also played soccer for a long time but eventually kicked that sport to the curb and turned her focus totally on field hockey.
“I was just better at field hockey and I just liked it more than soccer,” she said.
Brimacombe, who has a 3.99 grade-point average, plans on studying biology at Michigan. And, of course, playing a little field hockey while she’s there.
She should fit in quite well.