‘It’s really hard to be a teenager,’ so Katherine Brocke helps others
By Raiza Giorgi
Katherine Brocke takes her role seriously as a captain for Santa Ynez Valley Union High School’s track and field team, because it involves helping her teammates get through a competition, win or lose.
“It’s really hard to be a teenager these days, with pressures from all different angles and social media that portrays this alternate reality, when really some kids are just struggling. I want them to know that I am there for my teammates and encourage them,” she said.
That attitude was one of the reasons that the 18-year-old was chosen as the 2017 Rec Queen for Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation, which kicks off its fundraising campaign in a few days. Katherine will be participating in a series of fundraising events for Youth Rec to raise money for its year-round community efforts to provide recreation facilities and opportunities.
“I was on my way home from babysitting when my mom called me and told me that I had been selected for the Youth Rec Queen and I about came unglued, I was so excited,” she said.
Katherine has seen the posters each year since moving to the valley when she was 11 with her mother, Maili Halme, a chef who owns a local catering company.
Her grandparents, Paul and Susan Halme, moved to the valley in 1976 to raise their children. Her grandfather is an attorney and her grandmother owns and operates Solvang Bakery with her aunt, Melissa Redell.
“I am so thrilled that I get to be a part of this organization and help people understand just how much Youth Rec does for our community. I want to tell as many people as I can to get involved and participate,” she said.
SYV Youth Rec has raised more than $3 million in the past 62 years for local youth programs and funded many projects at the high school, fields at local elementary and middle schools, and the baseball and soccer fields at Sunny Fields Park, among other accomplishments.
When Ballard School was remodeled, for example, the group put in the basketball courts, ball fields and playground equipment. Youth Rec also contributed to the construction of the new barn facility at the high school’s farm, and completed renovations of the baseball fields and softball fields. Youth Rec continues to sponsor the Youth Basketball and Summer Swim Programs, support Arts Outreach youth programs, and maintain the support of local youth teams and tournaments in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.
“When I moved here from Ventura I was having a hard time making friends, and when I started dancing at Los Olivos Dance Gallery and doing soccer all the girls were so nice and welcoming. I really felt like I found a family and people that support me,” Katherine said.
When she retired from dance to concentrate on track and field she trained very hard for the heptathlon, which requires competing in seven events over two days.
“I figured out that my strengths were really in the long jump and short sprints, so I started focusing on those and I think I’ve done pretty well. Being on this team is more than just participating in a sport, it’s my stress reliever, and I get a lot of motivation from everyone,” she said.
When she isn’t on the track, Katherine loves to spend time with her family. She is usually at her grandmother’s house a few days a week or babysitting.
“I thought that babysitting wasn’t a ‘real job’ and man, it is! I love being with the kids and it’s allowed me to afford my own car. I pay for my clothes and save for college,” she said.
Katherine plans to attend esthetician school in Los Angeles and then get a business degree. She wants to travel the world and explore how skin care is done in other cultures and countries and then one day move back to the valley and raise a family of her own.
“This valley is so special, and I can’t image what life would have been like not living here,” she said.
For more information on SYV Youth Rec, log onto www.syvyr.com. The schedule of Katherine’s fundraising is listed there, along with information about attending or donating.
Top 5 with Katherine Brocke
1. Favorite movie: “Dream Girls”
2. Favorite local place: Her grandmother’s house in Solvang
3. Favorite local activity: Driving back roads to see all the greenery and wildflowers.
4. Favorite places to eat: S.Y. Kitchen, Panino, California Taco
5. Favorite treats at Solvang Bakery: Peanut butter brownies or the almond rings.