Dig This: At 95 Pounds, Tough Libero Packs a Wallop

Scholar-athlete-bridget-downsBridget Downs

• School: Lafayette High
• Grade: 9th
• Sport: Volleyball
• Academics: Bridget is a 4.0 student in advanced classes and finished her first semester with the No. 1 unweighted GPA in her class.
• Parents: Maribeth & Joe

When evaluating the toughest athletes on campus, football players and wrestlers jump to the head of the class, and Lafayette High is no exception.

But how about making a case for a 5-foot-2, 95-pound, freckled-faced redhead with a big heart and perfect academic record?

We give you Bridget Downs, a 15-year-old freshman on the volleyball team who plays libero, which is a fancy way of saying she dives onto the floor all match long.

Every match, the smallest player on the Generals flings her body to and fro, crashing into the hardwood court over and over again.

For such a demanding position she must wear protective gear like a football player, right? Nope. Not unless you call bruises and floor burns protective gear.

“It hurts,” Downs acknowledged, saying, “I like it when I get the ball in the air. I get bruises but I don’t want to wear elbow pads.”

Knee pads only for Bridget, who plays with fierce determination – a surprise considering her sweet-as- pie, girl-next-door appearance.

“She is a hustler and super intense,” her father, Joe, said. “She sacrifices her body and is a scrappy player.”

Bridget played on the city champion A team as a sixth-grader at Jessie Clark Middle. The MVP of the team as an eighth grader, she made a memorable debut with the Lafayette varsity.

Her first match was a win over Henry Clay, the Generals’ first victory over the Devils in seven years.

She had a busy first season, playing on the freshman, JV and varsity teams, and she is immersed in club play now.

After high school, she hopes to play in college – and will have no trouble making the cut academically.

Bridget is a 4.0 student and finished her first semester with the No. 1 unweighted GPA among ninth graders.

Her interests are many – politics, business, reading, crafts and volunteerism – reflecting her parents’ strengths. Joe owns his own business and her mother, Maribeth, is a teacher at Providence Montessori.

Bridget served on the student council at Jessie Clark and is taking two business classes this year.

She reads all the time, creates her own jewelry and has volunteered at God’s Pantry and the Salvation Army.

Last year she helped collect clothing and supplies for the  residents affected by the tornado in West Liberty.

“When I worked at Kore Academy, she joined me many times and she was really good with kids with learning differences. She is patient and knows the right things to say,” Maribeth said.

“She is a hard-worker and intrinsically motivated. She has had great teachers and she wants to do well for them.”

That, she has.
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