By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
Brookings-Harbor High School regularly produces some of the best athletes in the state.
Most recent proof of that statement is the selection of a pair of Bruins to the All-State teams last month.
Senior Stephanie Kerr was voted to the All-State First Team in volleyball while fellow senior Mark Aguirre was an All-State Honorable Mention selection in soccer.
Kerr was recognized as one of the top players in the state when she was voted as the Far West League MVP at the end of the season.
Though Kerr is loaded with natural talent, it hasn't been a cake walk for her to get this far.
"I went from being on the JV2 team my freshman year to starting on varsity my sophomore year," Kerr said.
A significant growth spurt after her freshman year aided Kerr in her speedy development.
"I was in the gym a lot, working out, and I just started to understand the game a lot more," Kerr said.
Unlike most athletes of her caliber, Kerr has only been playing the sport she loves since sixth grade.
Up until her days on the Azalea Middle School volleyball team, Kerr was a soccer player.
"I don't know why I picked volleyball over soccer," Kerr said. "But I'm glad I did."
Kerr is one of the most feared hitters in the state, blasting the ball by her opponents time and time again.
In her final three games in a Bruin uniform, Kerr registered 29, 31 and 36 kills, respectively, to lead the team with an impressive 19.5 kills per game for the season.
Although her power is one of her biggest assets, Kerr said that timing, not strength, is the key to being a good hitter.
"You can have all the strength in the world, but if you don't have the timing down, it's not going to do you any good," Kerr said. "It's more about the chemistry between you and your setter."
Kerr has had her share of hurdles to clear during her high school career.
The most recent was an asthma problem that didn't appear until her junior year.
After a few unexpected asthma attacks during games, Kerr had to start using an inhaler before she played.
"As long as I take it before every game, I shouldn't have any asthma attacks," Kerr said.
Currently, Kerr is playing for Pirate Club Volleyball, a club team based out of Marshfield High School in Coos Bay.
Kerr is hoping to continue her volleyball career at the collegiate level by playing at NCAA Division III George Fox University or NCAA Division II Western Oregon University where she plans on studying physical therapy or athletic training.
"I'm looking forward to the intensity and the higher level of play," Kerr said. "Even going from high school to club volleyball was different from anything I had experienced before."
For Aguirre, the All-State selection came on the heels of a First Team Far West League selection that capped off a senior season in which he led the Bruins with 16 goals on the year.
The 2007 season was a tremendous one for the boys' soccer team, which made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs before losing to the Hidden Valley Mustangs in a heartwrenching 3-2 overtime loss.
Aguirre was an important part of that playoff run as he scored all three of the Bruins post season goals, including the game-winner in overtime of the Bruins' second round win over Marist.
"The playoffs were definitely a highlight of this season," Aguirre said. "We were stoked to beat Marist and get farther in the playoffs than we did last year."
Although winning awards and being honored for achievements is a big part of high school athletics, it's not something athletes focus on, Aguirre said.
"During the season, you don't think about awards," Aguirre said. "If people want to recognize you, awesome, but we don't go out to try and win awards."
For Aguirre, this past season was about something different: family.
Aguirre had the opportunity to share the field with his dad, Rick, who coached the JV team this year.
"My favorite part of this season was getting to have my dad at every game," Aguirre said. "It was nice to have him there."
When he was younger, Aguirre and his father didn't agree about soccer.
"My dad hated soccer and didn't want me to play," Aguirre said. "But when he finally let me play, he saw that I loved it and he started to love it too."
And now, neither of them can get enough of the sport they adore.
"Everybody has a sport, a love," Aguirre said. "And that's my sport, my love."
As a senior and one of the captains of a very talented squad, Aguirre knew he had responsibilities to the team and to his coach.
"I learned to control myself," Aguirre said. "As a captain, I had to set an example for the underclassmen. The way you act is how the team's going to act."
After graduation, Aguirre plans to play soccer at Southwestern Oregon Community College and pursue a career as a personal trainer.