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The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

Playing a Sport Six Years Later: Kate Berrigan Finds a Community

Kate Berrigan ‘25 poses with her fellow players of the Hollis Brookline High School Girls Tennis Team. After choosing to play tennis again, Berrigan has found a vibrant community.
Mark Berrigan
Kate Berrigan ‘25 poses with her fellow players of the Hollis Brookline High School Girls Tennis Team. After choosing to play tennis again, Berrigan has found a vibrant community.

Snow melting, changing to rain. New Hampshire freezes in time, waiting for the beds of colorful flowers to replace the once sparkly blanket of snow. Jackets are thrown in the back of the closet, while shorts are taken out.

At Hollis Brookline High School, student-athletes grab their familiar equipment and put on their wrinkled uniforms. The time for spring sports has arrived. For most, the wait has only been a short year, but for Kate Berrigan ‘25, it has been six.

Returning to the Old

After originally starting tennis in elementary school, Berrigan played from second to fifth grade. As time grew on, she drifted farther apart from the sport. “I loved it so much back then, but I wore myself out by playing too much, so I quit,” said Berrigan.

Transitioning to a new middle school, she was forced to make new friends and learn in a different environment, so tennis became the last thing she thought about. After entering high school, she decided she would try out for the girl’s volleyball team.

This was a huge success, and she quickly became a vital player on the court. Taking a liking to the sport, she played club volleyball every winter and spring. She loved the opportunities club volleyball provided but was looking for a new challenge. “I really wanted to stay active, especially with athletics and in my community, so I wanted to play a school sport,” said Berrigan.

After looking through the offerings, one familiar sport looked like the perfect match. “I thought that I would just pick up tennis again,” she explained.

Little did she know this would be the perfect choice.

Facing Challenges

Nothing is easy at first, and this was exactly the case for Berrigan. Feeling like a fish out of water, tryouts proved to be nerve-racking. Although the nerves kicked in, Berrigan found comfort in trying her best. “I was nervous for tryouts as everyone is, but was fine with the fact that I had to prove myself to get on the team,” she said.

After making it on the varsity starting line-up—with tryouts behind her—Berrigan tried her best to get to know head coach Dalia Paradie. This proved to be difficult at first. “The hardest part of joining the tennis team was trying to find what my relationship would be with the coach,” she explained.

Berrigan proves her skills by eloquently stroking a tennis ball across the court. (Mark Berrigan)

Berrigan knew that the perfect way to do this would be through putting her best foot forward by working hard. After picking back up her old instincts, she was able to take the fourth spot on the team ladder. 

Her skills instantly impressed coach Dalia. “[Kate] was tall and stately—definitely an advantage in tennis—she had beautiful stroke mechanics and an aggressive and powerful serve,” coach Dalia said.

In the end, Berrigan had nothing to worry about with coach Dalia. “Dalia has proven to be very appreciative of me coming onto the team and bringing my best energy,” said Berrigan.

Finding Joy in a Community

Being on the tennis team has proven to surprisingly bring Berrigan happiness. A true extrovert, it first started by simply being around other friendly people. “I really do thrive on social interaction and seeing others,” said Berrigan. 

Berrigan stands with her tennis racket, smiling. (Mark Berrigan)

Berrigan’s happiness was immediately noticed on the court by coach Dalia. “Kate is a very helpful and positive player—always smiling and happy even sometimes when the points don’t go her way,” coach Dalia explained.

After many practices, matches and pasta parties, the team has been through it all. One moment—one match—stands out to Berrigan. 

It was the second match of the season and the team was excitedly awaiting their games. After a 50-minute bus ride to Conval, New Hampshire, Mother Nature decided she had other plans. 

After stepping off the bus, the rain had begun. “Everybody immediately checked their phones, and checked the weather forecast,” explained Berrigan. 

There it was: a high chance of rain. Unfortunately, Mother Nature did not think about the Hollis Brookline Girls Tennis Team when planning her day. The game was canceled, and the team was forced to drive back south to Hollis. 

At first, the team took this negatively. “It was a little annoying and off-putting for all of us, just because we had all spent time that we could have used for practice,” explained Captain Anuhya Chilakapati ‘25.

While most teams would dwell on this longer, the tennis team quickly found humor in the situation. “We all bonded over the fact that we shouldn’t have driven up in the first place,” said Berrigan.

Even more importantly, the team used the seemingly inconvenient experience to become a closer-knit group. “We made the best of it on the bus because we were chatting and going over our future games,” explained Chilakapati. “It wasn’t a complete loss of time, we just had to redirect our goals,” she continued.

This is just one moment that represents the wonderful people Berrigan calls her teammates. “Those girls—like the ones on the tennis team—make me feel welcome, uplift me and always say positive things to me whether we’re talking about tennis or just school,” continued Berrigan.

Berrigan smiling with the rest of the team, enjoying candy after a match. (Courtesy Berrigan)

This is especially important for a team that has such a wide range of abilities. “It’s different from a lot of other sports because the majority of the people who join the tennis team come in with very little experience,” said Chilakapati.

Berrigan has realized that her teammates always show up willing to help those around them. “All the girls are really supportive whether you are just starting in the sport or are returning,” she said.

Similarly, she values the close connections they have made, contrasting the competitiveness that can persist in most school sports. “A lot of the girls aren’t in conflict with one another because we value each other’s relationships rather than our place on the team or who is better,” explained Berrigan.

Looking Forward

Although the tennis team has allowed Berrigan to discover a community around her, it has also helped her discover more about herself and her boundaries. Specifically, Berrigan now sees the importance of stepping out of her comfort zone. “I think it’s beneficial to try and stay active and do new things in your life to challenge yourself,” she explained. 

Joining the tennis team was another leap for me in trying new things and being more involved in my community.

— Kate Berrigan

The tennis team was the perfect example of her achieving this in real life. “Joining the tennis team was another leap for me in trying new things and being more involved in my community,” said Berrigan.

Although there are still many matches remaining in this spring season, eventually it will come to a close. Still, Berrigan knows that her choice to join the tennis team will aid her for the rest of her life. “I know it’s going to help me in the future because it will help me realize that I should try new things and keep getting out there because my life shouldn’t be boring,” she explained.

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About the Contributor
Mason Marshall
Mason Marshall, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mason Marshall ‘25 is a first-year journalism student and is ready to conquer the world of reporting all things news for CavChron!  He is interested in incorporating a wide range of opinions through interviewing lots of people in the HB community.  In 2024, Mason begins his new monthly column, HBHS Happiness Journal, in hopes of highlighting joy and positivity in the community. When he’s not being a STEM-wizz in the HBHS Science Olympiad and Math Teams, Mason loves to race down the slope on the HBHS Alpine Ski Team.  Anytime it snows, you are bound to catch him somewhere on the mountain chasing the powder.  Mason is also an avid lover of all things National Parks and outdoors, so sun or snow he will likely be on some form of trail.  He also loves supporting the local community through his involvement as the HBHS Red Cross Club Vice President.  Fun fact: Mason has donated his blood!    Awards: Best of SNO: Conan Gray Finds New Sound with ‘Found Heaven’

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    Tom HoffmanMay 3, 2024 at 10:35 am

    Kate provides great inspiration and encouragement for other people in her age bracket. Great Article-Tom Hoffman