Brooklyn Mickelson has racked up an impressive tenure in a St. James uniform, and after this season, she'll be taking her game to Iowa Lakes.
When Brooklyn Mickelson sat down at a blue-clad table surrounded by the red-and-white emblazoned Events Center, she took a moment to survey the scene.
At that moment, she spotted her support system: her parents Todd and Tammi and sister Chloe.
She spotted a few teammates and friends and friends grinning ear-to-ear in excitement for what was about to unfold.
Then she looked over and saw Katie Larson, the coach who was going to lead her the next two years in a game she’s loved since she was old enough to put a Wilson glove on her left hand.
With one signature, - Brooklyn Mickelson had committed to play collegiate softball at Iowa Lakes in the spring of 2019.
Miss St. James. Senior Class Officer. Perennial Honor Roll Student. National Honor Student. Student Leader.
Brooklyn has comfortably filled all of those roles.
But Brooklyn feels most at home when she's encircled on a mound on a grainy-diamond, gripping a yellow 12.8" ball - staring 60 feet across from her next strikeout victim.
And when she violently hurls the perfect pitch right past another the aluminum bat, she’s perhaps at her happiest.
“Softball has helped me a lot as a person and developed me mentally, physically and provided me so many life lessons,” said Mickelson.
Mickelson is a three-year letter winner for the Saints, and since her sophomore campaign has been a standout softball player for the red-and-black.
But her journey in softball is lifelong.
In a family of softball players, Brooklyn remembers the first time she held a ball and stuck her infant-sized hand in an oversized Wilson glove.
Despite playing competitively as a seven-year-old, Mickelson knew she had ‘it’ when she played on the seventh-grade team in St. James.
“My dad is my biggest coach, and he always told me I had potential,” said Mickelson. “That seventh-grade year, I was successful, and I was like ‘hey I kind of like this.’”
In the coming years, Mickelson started as a B-squader but would make occasional spot starts on Varsity.
Then, it happened.
She got her first varsity start on the road as a sophomore. What made it more of a surprise was she had just finished wrapping up a B-squad game.
“The varsity coach came over and said ‘Hey are you ready to pitch for varsity,’ and as a tenth grader I was so surprised.”
That surprise turned into hunger; a desire to run with the opportunity presented. That season she would win All-Conference honors as a pitcher.
While that was good enough, Mickelson knew she had to address other aspects of her game.
“I knew in the off-season I needed to be a good hitter as well as a good pitcher, and it’s funny because I used to dislike batting.”
Last season on the mound, Mickelson was again an All-Conference selection as her K:BB ratio was 92/46, while limiting opposing batters to 108 hits.
But it was at the plate where she made her most significant improvement - hitting .406 while reaching base at a .513 clip in addition to four round-trippers and 26 hits.
Out of her 26 hits last season, one base hit remains her defining highlight.
At Windom, in the midst of a 12-inning marathon with two runners on base, Mickelson blasted a pitch at the letters into the outfield to beat the Eagles 5-4 in May of last year.
“Windom is one of my rivals,” she noted. “So to be able to deliver in that situation and bring home a victory in their home field was amazing.”
Mickelson's phenomenal junior season attracted the eyes of a few collegiate softball programs. Schools like Sioux Falls University, St. Mary’s and St. Benedict’s saw her dual-threat talent and were intrigued.
But after a visit and subsequent stay at a baseball camp on the vast campus of Estherville, Mickelson knew she had a second home at Iowa Lakes.
“I loved the atmosphere, the team was so welcoming and nice, and I could see myself fitting in nicely there.”
With her letter of intent signed, sealed and delivered - Mickelson renews her focus on making her swan song season as a Saint a memorable one.
“After a great summer ball season, I think we can go far and have a winning record," Mickelson said. "The goal is a deep run in the playoffs, and with this team, I think it's possible."
While next spring will present its challenges for Mickelson who will be 46 miles from hometown St. James, once she steps on that mound in an Iowa Lakers jersey, she’ll be right at home.