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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  High school sports

Softball preview: Brooke Lambert brings hockey mentality to softball field

UPDATED: Wed., March 28, 2018

Ferris softball player Brooke Lambert pitches  during a game with Gonzaga Prep on Tuesday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Ferris softball player Brooke Lambert pitches during a game with Gonzaga Prep on Tuesday. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

For as far back as Brooke Lambert can remember, life has always been about hockey.

Her father, Dan Lambert, played professional hockey in the U.S. and in Europe for the majority of Brooke’s early childhood. After his retirement, Dan turned to coaching hockey at the junior level and in the NHL, taking the family wherever his career went.

Dan’s most recent career move brought the family to Spokane in August to start his new position as head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs.

Brooke, a junior at Ferris, has been there for her father’s journey and even attempted to follow her father on the ice. She was the only one of Dan’s three daughters who decided to play hockey when she was younger. Her older sisters took to the softball field instead.

Brooke stayed on the ice for about three years before she traded in her skates for a pair of cleats and a softball bat.

“I grew up just swinging a bat and going and playing catch with my dad and my sisters, just being their little outfielder and fetching the ball,” Brooke said.

Brooke has since played in competitive leagues in Canada and now plays high school softball at Ferris.

Her road to Spokane has taken her to places all over the globe. She lived in New York for a short time before her father moved the family west. Her dad first worked as an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres in the 2015-16 season. Then he moved the family slightly east to Rochester, New York, where he coached the Rochester Americans, a Sabres affiliate, for the 2016-17 season.

Before New York, Brooke was in Kelowna, British Columbia, where her father coached the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets until 2015.

Dan was playing hockey professionally in Germany when Brooke was born. She lived in Germany for a few years before her mother and older sisters moved to Arizona. Her dad stayed behind in Europe to finish up his playing career.

After retiring in 2009, Dan joined his family in the Phoenix metro area for a short while before he was hired on as an assistant in Kelowna.

Brooke’s road to Ferris has been wild and maybe not for everyone. But she said she wouldn’t trade her unpredictable journey from one home to the next for anything.

“Moving around, I’ve met so many new people and have so many experiences,” she said. “It’s been awesome. I feel so blessed to be able to experience so much and see so much of the world.”

She certainly wouldn’t trade her life as a coach’s daughter. Her father’s career has helped her see just how exhausting a coach’s life can be, but it has also made her realize her father’s work ethic and the kind of person she strives to be in the future.

“It’s crazy when you really think about it,” Brooke said. “I mean, he’s just my ordinary dad, you know? But thinking about what he actually does, he works so hard, like, he really is a huge role model for me. He’s so hard-working, has the best work ethic.”

Brooke is looking to apply that kind of hard work into her final years on the high school softball field.

This season, Brooke brings plenty to the field at Ferris, where the Saxons won only one game last year. She’s been thrown in the middle of a rebuilding period that second-year coach Jimmy Day adopted last season.

Day said he and his team are wiping the slate clean and expect this season to run much smoother with new seniors and a couple of strong newcomers, including Brooke.

“I think we just have more energy this year,” Day said. “We have new seniors, new leadership.”

Brooke could provide some solutions, with a stronger arm in the circle and quick feet in center field. But her biggest contribution could come from her competitive nature, which she said she inherited from her father.

She also brings a dose of optimism to a team looking to make a bigger mark in the Greater Spokane League this year.

“The past years have been a little bit of a struggle I know for the team and for the program,” she said. “But I think for the next few years it will get better.”

Shaw leaves GSL to join father at Deer Park

With Dana Shaw’s new head coaching job at Deer Park came another perk – the opportunity to coach his daughter in her final season on the softball field.

Senior Cassandra Shaw joined her father at Deer Park this year after playing three high school seasons at Rogers. The Shaws moved to Deer Park in August after Dana was offered a head coaching job and a chance to transfer his daughters into his program.

It wasn’t an easy choice to make.

“We’ve got a long line of Rogers kids in our family,” Dana said.

Dana and his wife went to Rogers, and Cassandra’s grandparents and great-grandparents also graduated from Rogers.

“I never wanted to be that parent to transfer my kid,” Dana said. “… But it was purely a sentimental thing, where I would get the opportunity to coach my daughter.”

Becoming a Stag could also give Cassandra – a three-time GSL honorable mention – a chance to go further into the postseason than Rogers has in recent seasons. Cassandra could have a better chance at playing in her first state tournament this season while playing for the Stags, who have reached the state 1A tournament in each of the last four seasons.

Cassandra worked primarily as a backup pitcher to Macey Finch at Rogers, but she is expected to start in the circle at Deer Park. Dana said his daughter brings some great experience from playing against some tough GSL opponents for the last three seasons.

“She wouldn’t be the pitcher she was if it wasn’t for the three years at Rogers,” he said.

His younger daughter, Elizabeth, is a sophomore and will play junior varsity this season at Deer Park. Dana hopes to coach her for her final two seasons on the high school field once she moves up to varsity next year.

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