There have been many outstanding Seneca High School girls basketball teams over the past four decades, with hundreds of players wearing the Lady Irish uniform with pride.
Like many before her, senior point guard Brooklyn Giertz followed in the sneakerprints of those before her wanting to wear the number of a previous player she hoped to emulate her game after ... maybe even take it to a higher level.
“I loved watching Lyda Robinson play. She was always hustling, getting after it, and had the energy I always strive to have each time I go out on the floor. That is why I wear the No. 10,” Giertz said of Robinson, a Times All-Area First Team selection her senior year in 2018. “She was a tremendous role model and someone I did and still look up to.
“She was the type of player that I wanted to be.”
Anyone who saw Giertz and Robinson both play would have to say the former honored the latter’s number pretty well.
Giertz finished this past shortened season averaging 13.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 5.0 steals a game to lead Seneca to an 11-1 overall record, including an 8-1 league mark and Tri-County Conference championship.
Also, the point of Seneca’s 1-2-2 full-court press, she was voted a First Team All-TCC selection, a unanimous choice for the league’s Most Valuable Player and The Times 2020-21 Girls Basketball Player of the Year.
“I’ve been coaching boys and girls teams for 22 years. Kids like Brooklyn don’t come around often, they just don’t. She’s a relentless competitor, a tremendous teammate, a great leader, an exemplary student, and she is deserving of every award she receives.”— Seneca girls basketball coach Ted O'Boyle
“There are so many great things I could say about Brooklyn, it’s hard to start with any certain thing, but the truth of the matter is she just leads by example on and off the court,” said Seneca coach Ted O’Boyle, his team finishing the year tied for No. 7 in the final Associated Press Illinois Class 2A poll.
“I’ve been coaching boys and girls teams for 22 years. Kids like Brooklyn don’t come around often, they just don’t. She’s a relentless competitor, a tremendous teammate, a great leader, an exemplary student and she is deserving of every award she receives.”
A three-sport athlete, Giertz is also the setter on the Lady Irish volleyball squad and won a pair of state medals (4th in pole vault, 8th with 800-relay team) as a sophomore while also competing in the hurdles, but unfortunately, lost her junior season in track last spring after the IHSA shut things down because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I want my teammates to be able to count on me, look up to me, and know that I’m always there for them. I want to be the role model that my teammates and the younger athletes can follow. It’s all pressure I put on myself, but I feel striving to be a leader for others has only helped me reach my personal goals.”— Brooklyn Giertz, The Times 2020-21 Girls Basketball Player of the Year
“In whatever it is – basketball, volleyball or track – I want to be the best and biggest leader I can be,” said Giertz, who is also involved in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America. “I want my teammates to be able to count on me, look up to me, and know that I’m always there for them. I want to be the role model that my teammates and the younger athletes can follow.
“It’s all pressure I put on myself, but I feel striving to be a leader for others has only helped me reach my personal goals. It’s fun to have the role I have. ... I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“I know at least in basketball, the style she plays, she automatically makes the other four around her better,” O’Boyle said. “She has such a great understanding of the game. She knows what it takes to be a point guard, and she knows what it takes to be the point of the press.
“Honestly, because of the style we play, she sacrificed a lot as far as personal statistics go, even last season. She could have probably averaged six to eight points more a game, but maybe we don’t win as many games that way.”
For many months it didn’t look like Giertz and her senior teammates – coming off a season that saw the Lady Irish win 27 games and advance to the Class 2A supersectionals for the first time since 2002 – would get an opportunity for one last season on the court.
“It was a struggle, but I don’t think there was one certain thing that kept me focused and positive. It was my friends and teammates, it was my faith, and it was just the hope that we would have a chance to play,” said Giertz. “The last week of December, I was really starting to think the worst, like things weren’t going to work out for us. It just seemed we were running out of time to be able to have any kind of season.
“We as a group gained so much confidence from the previous season. I think as a team, even with the shortened season, we grew so much. Anything can happen, but I really feel we had what it would have taken to go far again in the postseason.
“We’ll never know, but I’m just glad that I, along with my classmates, were able to put on the Seneca uniform one last season. I couldn’t be happier that we were given that opportunity.”
Giertz is undecided as to her plans after graduation, saying she’s leaning toward attending a cosmetology school or a college to continue her athletic career in the pole vault. She said she wants to break the school record of 12 feet, 9 inches and has cleared 11-6 in workouts.
“I think that as her coach, to see her get this honor with the fact that she was always only about how the team did and not personal things make it even more special,” O’Boyle said. “She’s a great athlete, but beyond that, a very special all-around person.”