Oak Lawn’s Brianna Markusic marches to beat of own drum

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When she was a little kid, there was no playing around with dolls for Brianna Markusic.

“My mom told me that every time I had a doll I would destroy the doll,” she said. “I wasn’t a big fan of them. I’d always wind up with some kind of a bouncy ball in my hand.”

When she was a bigger kid, there were no hairdresser kits.

“I wasn’t that girly girl,” she said. “I grew up with all guys, basically. I really didn’t have any girlfriends.”

These days, Markusic doesn’t mind dressing up. She even has different-colored hair than she had last season.

She’s still all about the sporty side of life as one of the Oak Lawn’s most successful three-sport athletes.

The 6-foot senior earned all-conference honors in 2013-14 in both volleyball and basketball. In the spring, she was the shot putter for the track and field team and just missed making it to state with a sectional third-place finish.

Big dedication has brought big rewards.

“It feels pretty good,” she said. “Usually athletes just have that one sport they’re good at and they do another sport just to stay I shape. To be good in [three] sports … you feel unstoppable.”

Basketball probably is Markusic’s ticket to college. As a freshman, she played for a half-season on the sophomore team before being moved up to the varsity. Last season she averaged 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds in helping lead the Spartans to a 28-2 record and a sectional final berth.

“Ever since I was a kid I was into sports,” Markusic said. “We had a hoop in the street, and my brother [Brandon] would invite me to play H-O-R-S-E. I always wanted to be in the WNBA in basketball. That was my dream, and I’m still reaching for it.”

She honed her volleyball skills early, and curiosity turned into an equal passion when she started to play at Oak Lawn.

“For volleyball, me and my friends we would go in the neighbor’s back yard and play ‘Keep it up,’ and see how many touches we could get,” Markusic said. “(In high school) I just kept practicing, kept busting my butt in practice.

“Whatever Mac [coach Dennis McNamara] told me to do I literally did what he told me to do. I just kept pushing and practicing. I even went to sand volleyball courts and kept jumping in the sand to hit because it’s harder to jump there. Then when I came out to the court I could jump as high as I wanted to.”

Hitting out of the middle, Markusic compiled 95 kills, 13 solo blocks and 69 block assists en route to earning all-conference status in 2013.

After a few matches in 2014 she has 12 kills, 10 block assists, four digs and four assists.

“She’s big, physical, demands a lot of respect in the front row,” McNamara said. “She’s a great blocker and really controls the middle of the net for us.

“Being a senior this year she has really taken on the role of being a vocal leader, but she does it physically as well. We do a lot of running at practice and she’s usually the head of the class.”

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