Little did Abby Brown know on Saturday, March 14, 2020, she was taking her last at-bat as a Windthorst High School Trojanette. Since the second grade, she has spent time playing softball continuously to develop her talent as a catcher and a hitter. The last two at-bats against Iowa Park that Saturday afternoon were home runs. In the third inning her familiar jersey number 22 made the round trip driving in 2 runs, and in the fourth inning, she hit a solo shot for the Trojanettes seventh and final run of the season. Abby will head for East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas, this fall to become a part of Tiger softball, the 2019 Conference Champions in the American Southwest Conference. She will join the Tigers as a catcher while working on her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing.
As schools started closing and UIL began canceling competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic over that weekend, there was still hope for a chance for play to resume. Those hopes were dashed on April 17 when Governor Abbott and the UIL shut down the remainder of the school year. Head Coach Alyson Deatherage had prepared the Trojanettes for the worst, but Abby said, “I knew in the back of my mind there was a possibility, but of course I had hoped we would get to play again, but when I found out it was over it was heartbreaking. The fact that I'll never play as a Trojanette again is heartbreaking. It's hard to explain. It is very hard. I am blessed to have the opportunity to play in college. That helps me a little bit.”
Abby, for the time being, is camped out at home with her mother Missy Brown, owner and operator of Uniform Shop, and her brothers Landon and Austin. Landon is a Computer Science/Engineering student at MSU Texas, and Austin works in the Shipping/Receiving Department at United Regional. Abby explained, “We went from a family with no time; always running, which usually meant following me around for athletics. Now we are constantly at home, so every day my brothers and I have a list of things to do because mom is still working." Abby has remodeled her room and, most recently, has been a part of a major tree trimming project with her brothers.
For the past month and a half, she has been babysitting during the day for two little girls ages 1 and 4. Her day runs from 8 in the morning to 5:30 every day. The day includes lots and lots of play, but nap time allows her to go online to complete assignments for school. If Abby is unable to complete her schoolwork while the girls nap, she finishes it at home before doing anything else. " I can take care of most of my work pretty quickly. Schoolwork has been stressful, but it hasn't been too hard," she said.
Abby is working on finishing her College English class before completing her Salutatorian speech for graduation. Tentatively graduation is scheduled for May 24, when she will deliver her speech. The text of her speech will be printed in a special Senior Section for Windthorst High School on May 28. She is a three-year member of the National Honor Society currently serving as President.
When asked about missing out on senior activities, Abby explained, "For the past 12 years I've been going to graduations and looked forward to the day I would spend hugging classmates, teachers, friends, and family. Hugging everybody that goes by. We won't get that, and it is something I was looking forward to for such a long time, but I am trying to accept that God has a bigger plan, and it will be okay." Having bought a dress for prom, she added, "I'm not typically a 'phoo-phoo' pretty girl, but it was going to be my last chance to go and have a fun night and have a night all about me." Summing up her Senior Class, she said, "I would definitely say we are a class full of drama."
She would have undoubtedly added additional honors to her list of accomplishments this spring. She does, however, already have plenty to be proud of. In 2016-2017 as a freshman, she was Academic all-district in basketball and was 1st team all-district as an outfielder and Academic all-district in softball.
In 2017-2018 as a sophomore, she was 2nd team all-district and Academic all-district in volleyball. In basketball she was All-district Sixth Man and Academic all-district. In softball she was the 1st team All-district catcher and Academic all-district.
Her junior year, 2018-2019, she was 1st team All-district, Most Saves and Efforts Award, and Academic All-district in volleyball. In basketball she was 2nd team All-district, with the most assists award and again Academic all-district.
Last spring in softball, her team earned a trip to the State Tournament. Individually she was District Co-MVP, TGCA All-state, TGCA All-star team, TSWA All-state, Red River Diamond Dozen Team (Offensive MVP), and again added Academic all-district to her resume.
Off to a good start her senior year 2019-2020, she was named District Defensive Player of the Year, Academic all-district, and Academic all-state in volleyball. Her basketball honors included 1st team All-district, Academic all-district, and Academic all-state. Who knows what she might have added to the list had the coronavirus pandemic not entered the picture?
When asked about a most memorable moment, Abby hesitated a moment then said, "I really enjoy the big things, but it's the little things I especially hold on to. The little stories and little laughs you get at hotels where you've been staying for tournaments. The little trips you make to team bond. A reoccurring joy would have to be singing on the bus any time after a game. That is one thing we were quite consistent in. Just singing our little hearts out.” In addition to all the individual awards she was and is the ultimate Trojanette team player.
One of her favorite humorous moments involved a monkey suit belonging to Kora Pennartz, one of the smallest girls on the team. They were at the Regional Volleyball tournament and managed to talk 6'2" coach Heather Stark into putting it on. Abby described it this way, "It went halfway up her body. That moment had everybody laughing. It was quite a sight to see."
Coach Stark, while the source of some laughs from Abby's teammates, had high praise for Abby. "She is a great asset to any team she is on. She is a good teammate and leader that took a lot of time to help out younger players, whether it was helping them learn a play or showing them how to do a certain skill they were having trouble with. Abby always put her teams first and has done all asked of her to make our teams better. I know that she will have success in whatever she chooses to do.”
Volleyball Coach Allison Bussey echoed Starks's comments saying, "Abby is one of those players that comes to practice every day ready to work hard and get better. This year, she really stepped up and became a great leader to some of our younger players. I am fortunate to have coached her, and I know that she will go on to become very successful--not just in sports, but in life as well.”
Abby is an accomplished guitarist in a praise band. She takes part in guitar accompaniment and singing in worship services at St. Boniface and St. Mary's Catholic churches. About a year ago, she invested in a new Taylor guitar she has named Lucy.
Family and faith are a big part of her life. Abby lost her father to cancer in March 2011, so she has excelled with the incredible support from her family. She said, "I am a family person; if this COVID thing weren't going around, I would be spending any free time with family."
Abby loves the outdoors and has put a lot of work into school and sports and says she is hoping to be successful in the future. If her life up to now is any indication, her future has success written all over it.
When asked what she thought her father would say about the current situation, she said, "Dad would be the one telling us to keep the faith; that everything is going to work out. I wish he were here to tell me himself."
Thank you, Abby Brown, for what you mean to the Windthorst High School Trojanettes, your family, the Church, Archer County, and the world.