By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Bridget Donohue didn’t know a lot of people when she entered Middle Township High School as a freshman.
Donohue estimates that only “a little more than 10” of the students in her eighth-grade class of about 60 at Dennis Township Elementary School went to Middle. The rest went to other high schools in the area.
“I was totally thrown in with all Middle kids,” Donohue recalled.
Donohue graduates from Middle Tuesday. It’s safe to say she has made plenty of friends over the last four years.
Donohue will exit Middle as the current senior class’ only 12-sport varsity letter winner. A couple of weeks ago, she was awarded the school’s Robert Penkethman Memorial Sportsmanship Award, given to the male and female student athletes recognized by their peers as most sportsmanlike. A.J. Baez was the male recipient.
Donohue participated in field hockey, swimming and spring track in each of her four years at Middle. Through those sports, she quickly became acclimated to high school life.
“I think doing three sports saved my whole high school career,” Donohue said with a laugh. “Coming from Dennis, I didn’t know anybody there.”
Donohue had played field hockey in grammar school but had never participated in swimming or track prior to reaching high school.
“I was thrown into some new sports,” she said. “I got instant friends that way. I always loved sports, and without that I wouldn’t have met the people that are my closest friends.”
In field hockey, Donohue was a starter at defender as a senior. In swimming, she participated in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, as well as relays, and earned first team Cape-Atlantic League all-star status in the 500 freestyle. In track, she tossed the javelin and discus.
Three sports over four years of high school. Certainly a demanding schedule. But Donohue would have it no other way.
“I think it helped a lot because sometimes at most I’d get a break of a week or in between sports,” she said. “It was so much harder for me because I didn’t know what to do with myself when I didn’t have a sport. It was easier to go to practice and then plan accordingly around that. I got used to that. It helped me keep more of a schedule every day and it helped me know when I had to finish things.”
In addition to sports, Donohue also served as the president of Middle’s chapter of the National Honor Society and was also involved with the Red Cross Club, the Key Club and the school’s yearbook committee, as well as other volunteer ventures.
Donohue will graduate ranked among the top 10 in the senior class academically, with a grade point average of 4.6.
Donohue said being involved in so much helped her get the most out of her high school experience.
“I really enjoyed it. I was always busy with stuff,” she said. “I think being involved helped me a lot. It gave me a good foundation. I was taking hard classes and I really strived to do the best I could in them.
“I was able to make so many friends from doing different sports and having that team aspect all the time, whether I was playing or hanging out in school. I was learning from the teachers and coaches about how to improve in everything.”
After participating in three sports at Middle, Donohue is ready to try another in college. She’ll attend Catholic University of America, where she plans to major in education and join the school’s crew program, a club sport relatively new to the school’s athletic program.
“I’ve always thought about crew,” Donohue said. “They had it at Dennis (Township Elementary) after I left. My younger brother (William) did it and he liked it. I’m not the best runner in field hockey but I enjoyed it a lot. And I liked swimming and track but I wanted to try something else. Crew, I thought, was interesting. I’ve talked to some of the other girls on the team, so I’m thinking about giving it a try.”
Donohue will take a fulfilling high school experience with her to college.
“Thinking back at it now, I just have so many memories,” she said, “whether it was those weird things that happen at practice of winning South Jersey (with the field hockey team) or beating Oakcrest in swimming (to win the CAL National Conference championship). I wouldn’t have gotten those experiences anywhere else.”