Bowen inks with Chowan
WINDSOR – It’s all about family.
Bertie High School senior Brook Bowen said it was her family – both literal and extended – that led her to signing with Chowan University Friday.
The third baseman for the Lady Falcon softball team said she chose Chowan to continue her softball career because the school was exactly what she was looking for – and she had a little inside information.
Four years ago, Bowen’s cousin Amber Matthews signed with the Hawks and has played shortstop and pitched for the NCAA Division II member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
“I wanted a small school that was close to home,” Bowen said. “My cousin, Amber played there and she has told me how much fun it is on and off the field.”
Bowen said she wanted to continue the type of atmosphere she was used to at Bertie High – a team that was a second family.
“I’ve learned that playing softball is all about the team; not about any player,” Bowen said. “Whether the coach asks you to bat first or last, start or sit on the bench, everyone matters and everyone needs to do their part.”
Bowen said she loved playing at Bertie and especially for veteran Lady Falcon mentor Jackie Copeland, who she said “always made playing fun.”
Softball has been a constant in Bowen’s life since she began playing at the recreation level at eight years old. Before that, she played baseball and said she had always enjoyed the sport.
“There was a short time when I was playing so much I felt a little burnt out with it, but getting to high school changed all that,” she said. “I realized how much I loved it and how much I would miss it.
“I saw people graduating and, for some of them, it was the last time they played,” Bowen continued. “I realized then I didn’t want that to be me.”
Watching her cousin be successful at a local school spurred that desire even more and made her focus on playing at Chowan.
“I knew I wanted to go to Chowan,” Bowen said. “I looked at a few other offers, but they were always fallbacks for if things didn’t work out there. When Coach (Mandi) Balduf made the offer, I thought about it for a couple of days to be sure and then I jumped on it.”
Bowen said there were a variety of reasons Chowan was attractive, including the size of the school and the opportunity to play for Balduf.
“I expect her to be more in my face than I’ve experienced, but you expect that at the college level,” Bowen said. “I liked her a lot and it’s because she reminds me so much of Coach Copeland.”
Bowen said playing for Copeland was a change, but one she relished.
“I had always had coaches who told you things nicely and she just tells you how it is,” the BHS senior said. “It has been a lot of fun, never a dull moment, and I’ve learned a lot.”
Copeland said she is excited about having Bowen play at Chowan and looks forward to her having a great college career – soon enough.
“Obviously I want her to go to Chowan and do extremely well and I know she will,” the coach said. “First, though, we have another season here and I will be counting on her and the other five seniors to do a lot.”
A year ago, Bowen was named the Roanoke-Chowan region’s Best Defensive Player for the second year in a row. She was also All-Northeastern Coastal Conference and one of only two candidates for Player of the Year in the league.
While playing the “hot corner,” Bowen committed only one error as a junior and started five double plays.
“She is known for her quickness and her defensive ability, but her batting is getting better all the time,” Copeland said. “She was hitting over .300 last year and always did what I asked, whether that be bunt or whatever was needed. She always does her job on the field and in the classroom.”
Copeland said her attitude and effort made her extremely easy to coach.
“She is going to be a positive asset to Chowan just like she has been to Bertie,” Copeland said. “She has been a great student-athlete on and off the field and it has been easy to coach her. I’ve coached her in both tennis and softball for four years and never has a single day she didn’t come ready to practice or to play.”
Bowen was joined by her literal family – parents Raleigh and Renee Bowen – and her grandparents for the announcement as well as faculty and staff from Bertie High and Bertie STEM and teammates from the Lady Falcon softball team.
“It’s great to have my family with me,” Bowen said. “I only wish my grandmother, Virgie Mae, who passed away when I was a sophomore, was here to enjoy it too.”
Bowen will graduate from Bertie STEM High School in the spring and said she will miss her fellow Lady Falcons, but looks forward to Chowan.
“I will miss my family here, because the team is like a family,” she said. “I am looking forward to getting to know the players at Chowan and becoming part of that family.”