Reflecting on 2015

As 2015 is coming to a close, I thought I would take a few moments to reflect on the year that I’ve had. It was a big year for me in the many different facets of my life. I started the year as a 67.97 meter hammer thrower. I was about to begin my final semester of nursing school, and gearing up for my fifth and final season as a BGSU student athlete. January brought forth all kinds of different emotions. Excitement, nerves, pride, happiness, and even a bit of sadness. I was excited and nervous about how the year was going to play out. I was proud to have my final season in orange and brown. I was happy that I was in the final stretch of my schooling, but with all those happy emotions I also felt a bit sad. Sad that this was it. My final year. It felt like just yesterday I stepped onto BG’s campus for the first time, ready to take on the world as a small freshman. And here I was, January of my final year.

Unfortunately, my 2015 indoor season was a bit of a bummer. Don’t get me wrong, I threw well and even had a personal best during my season, but it wasn’t quite enough. I finished 17th in the nation on the NCAA Division 1 list. Most of you are probably wondering why I would be disappointed or bummed with that kind of finish. 17th in the nation in D1 is nothing to frown at. However, top 16 make it to the NCAA D1 National meet. I was 17th, by just a few centimeters. That meant I just missed out on an opportunity to compete in an Indoor National Championship. Hence, why my indoor season was a bit of a bummer.

Although my indoor season didn’t end the way I had hoped it would, my outdoor season was incredible. I started my season off competing at University of Toledo during the BG vs. UT Duel meet. It was by far the best season opener I had ever had, and almost all of my throws were over 67 meters. I was on cloud nine. Nothing could bring me down that day. 2014 was a mentally challenging year for me, so to start my 2015 season on such a high note was amazing. I went on to have the best season of my career. I improved (for the most part) at each meet and finished out the regular season at the Mid American Conference Championships with a personal best of 69.72 meters. That throw won me my third MAC Championship title, as well as Field Event Athlete of the Meet. My throw was not only a MAC meet record, but also a MAC Conference record. Needless to say, I finished my regular season with BGSU on a very high note.

Heading into the post season, I was able to “punch my ticket” to Nationals at the NCAA First Round in Jacksonville, FL. They changed the format of the meet this year, and field event athletes only get three attempts to qualify for Nationals. To qualify, you must place in the top 12. There are 48 athletes in each event. Since there are so many athletes in each event, it tends to be a rather long and drawn out process. Thankfully, I was able to do what I needed to do and qualified with a decent throw.

All season long I was sitting in the number one spot in NCAA D1. Going into Nationals, I knew I was the one who had a target at my back. I also knew that the girls I was going to be competing against were extremely talented, and it was going to be a battle if I was going to win a National Title. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for me. I had a solid meet, threw very consistent, but ended up placing third. The other two girls ahead of me had a better day. I wasn’t able to put together the big throw I needed to come out with a win. Nationals was a bit of a bust for me, but I knew that bigger things were on the horizon.

I spent the whole month of June on the west coast. With NCAA Nationals and USATF Nationals both being in Eugene, OR only just weeks apart, my coach and I felt it would be best to just stay on the west coast and train. It ended up working out really well, because while I was gone it just rained a whole bunch in Ohio. We went up to Seattle and trained at the University of Washington. It was a great experience. It was a long time to be away from my dogs, my mom, and of course my boyfriend, but I think it the end it was worth it. I competed at USATF Nationals at the end of June and finished 8th. This was the highest I had ever placed at a USATF Nationals, which was very exciting. My throw wasn’t anything too crazy, just another consistent meet over 67 meters. I finished out my season competing at the third and final Chicagoland Throwers Series in mid-July. I had a throw up over 68 meters at that meet, which I felt was a great end to a pretty incredible season.

Meanwhile, on the school side of things…
I finished up my final semester as a nursing student. I must say, nursing school was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. It is extremely demanding. Not only physically, but mentally AND emotionally. Without the strong support of my mom, I would not have been able to do track and nursing school at the same time. Thankfully, my coach was also very flexible with my schedule, and was always able to make it work, but it was far from easy. Graduating left me with such a satisfied feeling. Knowing that I was able to make it through some of the toughest most challenging months of my life was very exciting. After I graduated, I knew I still had one more thing looming over me, and that was my NCLEX. For those that are not familiar with the NCLEX, it is the nursing boards. In order for me to become a licensed “registered nurse” I had to pass the NCLEX. So after graduation, the studying began. Since I was so busy with traveling at the end of my throwing season, it made studying that much more difficult. Who wants to study for nursing boards when you are spending a week in beautiful Seattle, WA? Once I got my testing number, which allowed me to schedule my test, I scheduled it for September. I really buckled down and started spending each day answering tons of NCLEX style questions. Unfortunately, when test day came, I got all 265 questions and found out after 48 hours that I failed. That was a tough day. I had to regroup, and pick myself up to carry on. I took a Kaplan course, continued my studying, and scheduled my second attempt for October. When test day came, I once again got all 265 questions, except this time around I passed. It was a stressful time, but once I finally got my license in the mail I felt such a sense of relief. Nursing school was OFFICIALLY over, and it felt great.

I must say, 2015 was a huge year in a lot of ways. I can’t believe that it’s already coming to an end. Looking ahead to 2016, I feel like it’s going to be an even bigger year, if that’s even possible. There are so many awesome things that to come in 2016, and I am really looking forward to all of it. I just want to take a second to say thanks. Thank you to everyone who has believed in me, and continues to believe in me. Thank you for the continued support and encouragement, it means the world to me. And thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and for taking an interest in my life. I appreciate you more than you know.
Cheers to a new year!

Brooke Pleger
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