Melrose’s Hannah Brickley a hit on the court at Trinity

Hannah Brickley of Melrose shines as a volleyball player at Trinity College.
Hannah Brickley of Melrose shines as a volleyball player at Trinity College.

Trinity’s Brickley takes aim at hoop, too

Every volleyball practice at Trinity College, coach Jennifer Bowman figures Hannah Brickley will be there early.

The Melrose High graduate will smile and laugh, work on whatever part of her game is struggling, find ways to help her teammates, and finally leave the gym when practice has long been over.

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Brickley has shared her joy and work ethic with the rest of the Bantams while averaging a team-high 2.92 kills per set entering last Friday’s NESCAC quarterfinal match against Middlebury at host Connecticut College. The previous week, the 5-foot-9 junior outside hitter was honored as the conference’s Player of the Week after averaging 4.71 kills and 3.57 digs in wins over Bates and Colby.

“She’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win,” Bowman said. “She doesn’t get bogged down in who gets credit or who is to blame or who is responsible. Her attitude – that’s the best thing about Hannah.”

But something has been missing. Bowman has sensed it, so too have her players.

“She says it every year,” Bowman said. “She’s going to try out for the basketball team.”

For the last two seasons, Brickley has spent her winters keeping statistics for the Bantam women’s basketball team.

It wasn’t long ago that she was tearing up the court for Melrose High, sliding from shooting guard to small forward to power forward or wherever coach Rob Ferrante needed her.

Brickley’s last game came at the TD Garden in the 2010 Division 2 state final. She poured in 14 points in a 60-46 loss to Oliver Ames and Lauren Battista , the state’s Player of the Year.

Brickley hasn’t touched her basketball shoes since that game. She didn’t bring them to Trinity, instead deciding to focus all her athletic efforts on volleyball.

Her old shoes may not fit anymore, but her mother, Cindy , a former Trinity basketball player, made a special delivery to campus this week to drop off the dusty sneakers (although Hannah had yet to tell her mom why she needed them).

When the volleyball season ends Sunday (if the 12-10 Bantams advance to the NESCAC final), Brickley will toss her volleyball gear aside to try out for the basketball team Monday.

“The whole volleyball team is pumped to watch her play,” Bowman said.

“We told her that and she smiled, put her head down and said, ‘I don’t know if I’ll make the team.’ She’s that kind of ‘Aw shucks’ kid. She says she did horrible on an exam if she got a 93 instead of a 98.”

Ferrante is no stranger to Brickley’s tendency to downplay her skills.

He told her she could have played basketball in college. But he had a hard enough time in high school trying to get her to be selfish on the court.

“She would downplay her own abilities quite a bit,” Ferrante said. “She was the type of player where we would try to design things to make sure she got her touches during the game and got involved in the offense heavily throughout.

“At times, she would think she was a team-oriented player and that too much focus was put on her, not realizing her importance and her abilities.”

That’s why Brickley has always loved volleyball.

Her talent is widespread throughout both sports, and she misses the competitive nature of basketball (she rooms with three basketball players). But she’s been able to share that optimistic energy in volleyball without taking up too much of the spotlight herself.

“It changed me as a whole,” she said. “It’s a very upbeat, positive game. You have to shake off that play you just messed up, and I think volleyball has made me a much more positive and upbeat person.”

Monday, the focus turns to basketball. She may not be sure of her ability, but others are.

“I think she was such a smart player that she could work in almost any system,” Ferrante said. “She has the skills to play away from the basket and she was a strong enough player to play taller than she is around the hoop. If she put her mind to it, she’s a good enough athlete that she could play in college.”

Danvers grad tops WPI soccer scoring

Since Chris Ciampa has joined the men’s soccer program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Engineers have gotten better each season.

After going 5-10-1 in 2009 and 9-8 in 2011, Ciampa helped pilot WPI to an 11-5 finish this fall.

A 5-foot-11 forward who led Eastern Massachusetts with 33 goals in 2009, his senior year at Danvers High, Ciampa has led WPI in scoring in each of his three seasons, compiling 23 goals and nine assists in 45 games.

“It’s been a building process, but we’re getting better and better,” he said. “I put all my heart and soul into this team. Next year we’re looking really good.”

Here and there

Franklin Pierce freshman Hannah Weagle (Ipswich) was named Northeast-10 Conference Women's Soccer Rookie of the Year after scoring 11 goals and adding four assists this fall . . . Bridgewater State senior Stephen Wahome (Lowell) earned MASCAC Runner of the Year honors in cross-country after earning top individual honors in the conference championship, finishing the 8-kilometer race in 25:36.87. . . University of Massachusetts Lowell is hosting the Division 2 national field hockey semifinals Friday and the final next Sunday. . . The New Agenda: Northeast will induct 12 women into its Hall of Fame Sunday, including Jeanne Craigie (Stoneham) and Eugenia Gillan (Andover). This year's ceremony, which takes place at Woodland Golf Club at 1 p.m., is dedicated to members who are deceased.