SPRING HILL — Brooke Seaman's focus has always allowed her to translate ambition into results.
Even before middle school, Seaman was mature beyond her years, mapping out a plan that would lead her to a career playing volleyball. When she landed a professional contract in early November with VBC Biel/Bienne, a member of the First Division Swiss National A-League in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, that dream came to fruition.
"Once I started playing, I made it my goal to go pro, and the first step was college," Seaman says in an online video blog. "I have been training on my own for over a year now."
Her athletic road began at Springstead High School. Coming from a military family, Seaman moved around a great deal as a youth, and her prep years were her first chance to settle down.
Her skill on the court allowed her to fit in. She stood out on a mediocre team.
Even though she played only two years, Seaman quickly became the Eagles' leader on and off the court. Her presence led the program to its biggest win at the time when Springstead upset a top-ranked Central team.
When her prep career wrapped up in 2005 and she graduated in 2006, Seaman didn't receive much attention from recruiters. She considered going into the armed forces. But she refused to give up on her aspirations.
Seaman contacted college coaches on the Internet and finally found an interested party: Brevard College in North Carolina. Coaches at the Division II program offered her a scholarship and soon discovered they had landed a star.
Replacing All-American Marquessa Chappell, Seaman went on to become the Tornados' leading hitter and set multiple records for the program, including most kills in a match (25), highest hitting percentage in a match (70 percent), highest hitting percentage in a season (34 percent), most solo blocks in a match (seven), most solo blocks in a season (59) and most total blocks in a career (502).
"She truly took advantage of all the physical, mental and spiritual lessons and took her game constantly to the next level," Brevard coach Brenda Skeffington said. "We talk about achieving your peak performance and striving for excellence every day, and Brooke not only was extremely coachable, but she took advantage of coming back in the spring season of her senior year."
In fact, the Tornados have floundered since her graduation. After going 15-15 her senior season, Brevard has gone 3-26 and 6-24 subsequently.
One of Seaman's goals has been to give back to the sport through coaching, and she did that last year by moving back home to Spring Hill and becoming an assistant at her alma mater, Springstead.
Her addition to the staff, while only for a season and a half, had an impact on the team. She was instrumental in installing the Eagles' current offense, a carryover from the system she used in college.
Springstead went on to its best finish ever this season with a state region semifinal berth.
Her departure from the Eagles was only because of her success in pursuing a pro contract. During her senior season at Brevard, she had played in Argentina for USA Athletes International, so she jumped at the opportunity to make her home overseas.
The post-college training she did on her own was exceptional. Not only she did compete in every volleyball tournament she could find; she went on 50-mile bike rides and worked out nonstop.
"She never stopped," said her father, Ronald Seaman. "She would record these video blogs to show herself on the road to her dream."
The videos, on Seaman's Facebook page, show her candidly talking about her career plans and dreams.
After receiving interest from a franchise in Sweden, it was VBC Biel/Bienne that made her a firm offer. She had made contact with the team through a friend and mentor, former North Carolina State standout Stefani Eddins.
A total of 133 American players are currently competing professionally overseas, according to USA Volleyball. Among that group is every member of last year's U.S. national team.
VBC is 0-5 so far this season, having won only one set. However, the team is showing improvement. Volero Zurich was ranked in the preseason as the best team in the league, and VBC took a set (25-22) from them Nov. 21. There are five remaining matches on the schedule.
Seaman doesn't deal well with losing, but she is also still adjusting to her new life as a professional and a Swiss resident. It was a culture change she knew she would have to face.
"Not only will the language be different, but my entire lifestyle will change," she said in an interview with bctornados.com prior to her departure. "From the food I eat to the clothes I wear, all the way down to the way I separate my trash, things will be different."
Seaman declined to discuss the terms of her contract, but said she is living "very comfortably." Transportation, food and living expenses are covered by the club, she said.
The final step in Seaman's climb is to compete professionally in the United States someday in one of the leagues being proposed here. She is aware of how difficult that would be, but is no stranger to overcoming obstacles.
For her family, including a father who is a disabled veteran, nothing would make them prouder.
"As parents, you want your kids to be happy first and foremost," said Ronald Seaman, a former U.S. Army sergeant. "She has ambitions to do things that are good, and she wants to represent our country, which really makes me happy."