The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

The student news site of Kingwood Park High School

KP TIMES

O’Brien plays with heart

Senior+Brooke+O%E2%80%99Brien+competes+in+a+match+against+Summer+Creek+in+August.+On+Sept.+27%2C+OBrien+helped+lead+the+tennis+team+to+its+second+district+title+in+two+years.
Jacob Valcarce
Senior Brooke O’Brien competes in a match against Summer Creek in August. On Sept. 27, O’Brien helped lead the tennis team to its second district title in two years.

Senior Brooke O’Brien has been an avid tennis player since she was just 8 years old. In the fourth grade, she began taking lessons after her P.E coach recommended it.

O’Brien joined the team her freshman year and has been on varsity the past three years. As a senior, she is the top-ranked girl.

“She’s just a tremendous person,” Macapaz said. “When it comes to asking kids to play with a big heart, she’s been the definition of that for our team.”

O’Brien has a condition called dysautonomia, which causes blood to pool in her legs and her heart rate to increase up to 130 to 140 while just standing. This can cause her to pass out. In addition, if she is out in the heat for a long period of time and doesn’t drink enough water, it becomes difficult for her to play.

It was challenging in the beginning when she struggled to control it and know exactly what was going on. She received the diagnosis her sophomore year.

“When I didn’t have it as controlled it was definitely scary,” O’Brien says.

School for O’Brien has been affected by dysautonomia. She missed three months of her sophomore year when she was in and out of hospitals as doctors tried to help her. She couldn’t walk without instantly passing out.

Now, O’Brien has a routine appointment every three months to check in and make sure everything is going well.

Dysautonomia is a genetic condition that has been in her family for three generations. A person can only be tested for it with a tilt table test, where they lay you on a table and stand it up to see how long it takes before you pass out.

The disease is incurable but the doctors and her mother, Angie O’Brien, are hopeful that she will soon grow out of it.

The tennis team was shocked and confused when they learned about O’Brien’s condition during her sophomore year.

O’Brien said her mother has been her biggest supporter through it all. She has gone to all of O’Brien’s appointments and has been there through each step, including when O’Brien had heart surgery at the age of 10 because of supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).

“My mom was always there for me,” O’Brien said. “She was the one when I would be crying in the ambulances and would hold my hand.”

To any athletes struggling with health conditions, O’Brien’s advice is to listen to your body, know your limits and don’t push yourself to an unhealthy level. Her mom said that with help, those hurdles can be cleared.

“Whatever obstacle that you have in front of you is just something for you to overcome,” Angie O’Brien said. “You will get through it.”

Brooke O’Brien hopes that throughout the season she is able to improve her skills and to win more matches. With the team’s current win, O’Brien is hopeful they can keep it up in order to qualify for regionals.

Macapaz said he is hopeful that O’Brien will become a district champ this season.

After high school, O’Brien hopes to continue with tennis as a walk-on at Wichita State University. She wants to continue playing tennis for the rest of her life.

“I will still be that woman playing tennis,” O’Brien said.

Leave a Comment
Donate to KP TIMES
$840
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Kingwood Park High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs. The journalism program at Kingwood Park is funded solely from student sold advertisements and community support.

More to Discover
Donate to KP TIMES
$840
$1000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All KP TIMES Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *