Ability and intensity allow Brick to excel A driven star: McDonogh's freshman ace has to be the best -- whether it's in tennis, basketball or violin.

February 09, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Last November, McDonogh girls basketball coach Seth Kushkin asked his players to jot down individual goals for the season. Vicki Brick wrote just one -- to work harder than anyone else.

Although only a freshman, Brick lives by those words.

She arrived at McDonogh already highly touted in basketball and even better in tennis. Ranked eighth in the Middle Atlantic Tennis Association at 16-and-under, she swept the AIS championship without losing a set last fall.

At 11, Brick decided she wanted to join the pro tennis tour by the time she was 16 or 17. Since then, she has worked double time. She's taking a break from tennis now, but in the fall Brick played tennis before and after school, then shot baskets until sundown.

Kushkin said extra effort enables Brick to play both sports part time and excel at each full time.

"She makes the most of the time she is playing basketball and the time she is playing tennis," said Kushkin. "That intensity, you can't teach. She has that drive to always win, to never settle for being second best."

Victor Brick believes his daughter was born with that drive to excel -- at everything. In seventh grade, she couldn't tolerate dropping from seventh to 13th violin.

"Here's a girl who's in tennis and basketball at the highest level and she's unhappy that she's middle-of-the-pack in violin," said her father.

"By the end of the year, she did a demo tape and gave it to her instructor. When we came to the spring concert, she was first violin. I kept telling her don't worry about it -- it's just violin. But she wanted to be first and she was by the end of the year."

Her parents, Victor and Lynne Brick, operate a chain of local fitness clubs, but they don't push her to excel at sports, said their daughter. All that determination comes from within.

"I feel like I want to do something with my life. I really, really love tennis and competing," she said. "Because I have the skills and the opportunity to take it to the top level, I might as well try."

In the meantime, Brick has debuted as probably the area's best freshman guard.

The veteran AAU point guard averages 18.5 points, 6.0 steals and 2.8 assists. She has helped make an already good team better, boosting the Eagles (15-5) to the No. 9 ranking and a spot in tonight's AIS A Division tournament semifinal, where they will play host to Bryn Mawr at 4 p.m.

"She has a lot of confidence for a freshman," said Mount Hebron's Alisha Mosley, widely regarded as the area's top point guard. "I've never seen somebody come out with that much confidence. I know I didn't as a freshman."

Mosley ranks Brick among the top players she has faced -- and for good reason. Brick had 29 points, 19 steals, five assists and eight rebounds in a 56-43 win over Mount Hebron at Catonsville's holiday tournament.

"It's not that she has so many moves," said Mosley. "She has a quick step and it's hard to recover, because she's very fast. And she's smart. She knows when to take it to the hole and when to shoot a little baby jumper."

Unfortunately for Kushkin, Brick likely will not remain with the Eagles for four years. Her tennis game is kicking into high gear.

"She has built, in 18 months, a professional-style game. That's an amazing feat," said Lenny Schloss, Brick's coach at the Baltimore Tennis and Fitness Center.

This spring, Brick will pick up her tournament schedule. She has played only 10 or 12 tournaments a year, about half the number most juniors play, but needs more to boost her game to the next level.

Schloss said Brick already has a promising combination of focus, determination and self-esteem.

"Put that together with a very, very high level of athleticism and you have a good package for any sport," he said.

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