LAMOILLE — LaMoille High School fans enjoyed cheering for Shiela Browning the past four years, even though many did not even know how to pronounce her first name.
Shiela, that’s Shy-la, rather than She-la, certainly gave them a lot to cheer for.
This past school year she was the BCR co-Player of the Year in volleyball, packing a game of power at the net, in receiving unanimous Little Ten All-Conference honors.
In basketball, she again was tabbed unanimous Little Ten All-Conference honors as well as being there BCR Player of the Year runner-up, leading the Lady Lions to their best record in years.
She also competed in track and field, a school record holder battling through injuries.
And now, Browning shares the 2014 BCR Female Athlete of the Year honors with Princeton’s Zoe Mead.
Browning, one of the best all-around athletes in school history, took pride in being a multi-sport athlete for LaMoille, a typical small school which relies on such athletes to build all its sports programs.
“When I came into high school sports, I told my parents by the end of high school I want to be able to walk into a gym and people know exactly who I am, even if they pronounce my name incorrect,” she said. “With participating in three sports every year and club volleyball sophomore and junior year, I definitely succeeded.”
So, how did she get her unique first name?
“Well, I am actually named after my Granny (Sheila) but my mom had my name picked out since she was 16,” Browning said. “Everyone pronounces it incorrectly. Some even take it into their own hands and try to correct it. My mom was thinking about another spelling like Shyla, but picked the one closest to my Granny’s.”
Browning, who knocked down an area-best 233 kills with 122 points and 39 aces, said everything about the game of volleyball is a real thrill.
“The skills for the sport have to be so very precise. Being able to hit a ball perfectly, in the exact spot that you want it, is a huge thrill,” she said. “But my favorite part is the team work. You can’t do everything yourself in volleyball. You become a family, and that’s exactly what we had at LHS.”
Lady Lions coach Hallie May said the athletic Browning could have played anywhere on the court.
In basketball, the 5-8 senior guard was asked to do a little bit of everything and then some, from handling the ball to posting up. She said it was both a demand and a welcome challenge.
“I loved shooting outside and taking that ball for a drive. But it was such a demand with the numbers we had last year. I had to do a bit of everything, even center,” said Browning, the area scoring leader at 14.6 points per game and led the Lady Lions in assists (2.8) and steal (3.4). “But I always gave 110 percent and never gave up. It all paid off in the end. We had a better record my senior year than any other years in the past.”
She capped her career by joining the 1,000-point Club at LHS, standing No. 1 all-time among the school’s scoring leaders.
Browning came over from the softball team to track her sophomore season and soon set a school record in the triple jump. She had a tough senior season, landing wrong practicing the long jump the day before conference and spraining her back.
Then the day of prom, she sprained her ankle walking in heels and went into sectionals on a bad wheel.
“Athletes and heels don’t go well together. Or maybe it’s just me and heels,” Browning said.
Picking a favorite out of the four sports she played for is tough, because she said she had a passion for all of them. If she had to pick, she said it’d be a tie between volleyball and basketball.
She will go on to pursue volleyball at Sauk Valley Community College and will keep her options open after that. She said is getting excited, a little nervous, but ready to play.
“I would like to play right away, but there are some incredible players out there and I’m honestly just grateful to be on a team and still pursuing one of my favorite sports,” Browning said.
The Sauk Valley community may take awhile to learn her name, but they will know all about her soon.
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