BERKLEY — When she was approximately 16 years old, current University of Detroit Mercy track and field athlete Brandee Hart decided to act on a suggestion by her mother that changed the direction of her life.
While she was a student at Berkley High School, when it came to athletics, Hart’s primary focus was basketball. If any sport was going to lead to a college scholarship, as far as she was concerned, it was going to be basketball.
But her mother, Sylvia, had a different idea. She thought her daughter was “naturally good” at track and field.
The evidence would seem to suggest that her mother was on to something. After making the decision that “once I got interested in track, it was track all the way,” Hart excelled enough at the sport to earn a scholarship to Detroit.
And aside from just being good enough to make it to the collegiate level, Hart, who is now in her senior season with the Titans, has done something with the opportunity she has been given.
Her accomplishments at Detroit have included being a Horizon League champion in the 4x400-meter relay, being selected as the team MVP for the 2012 outdoor season, and the team’s Rookie of the Year in the 2011 indoor and outdoor season.
Hart has also been a part of breaking school records at Detroit, including individually in the 100 hurdles.
“It feels good,” said Hart, whose hometown is Oak Park. “Especially being a senior, I feel like I accomplished a lot since I’ve gotten here. A lot of the stuff I accomplished is stuff I wanted to leave (Detroit) with. I’m really excited I can be a good contributor to the team. It was great. It’s a little bittersweet that it’s coming to an end. I’m just happy I got to be part of this team. I got to see people grow; people got to see me grow as a person. It was a great experience. I’ll never forget it.”
Guy Murray, who is Detroit’s Director of Track and Field and Cross Country, shared some thoughts as to what Hart has brought to the Titans program.
“Brandee’s been one of those performers that kind of makes a team,” he said. “She’s been steady and can do a lot of different things, help a lot of different ways. She’s been a key person. She’s been a leadoff person on our (relay team) — that leg is super important. She’s been very steady and consistent — all the things you kind of look for from a top-level person.”
Aside from the success she has found on the track, Hart cited a lesson she has learned via athletics that she can apply to her life long after her athletic career is over.
“One thing I did learn is that if you work hard, nothing’s out of reach,” said Hart, who aside from referring to her mother as her “biggest supporter,” also acknowledged support she has received along the way from coaches. “Put in some extra work, and you can do anything, be anything. Nothing’s too far out of reach for you.”
While earning the chance to compete at the college level may represent a dream come true for Hart, the scholarship she received could also help lead to another one. A forensics science class in high school helped her decide that she would like to become a crime scene investigator, and she opted to choose criminal justice as her major at Detroit.
Although Hart isn’t exactly ready to ride off into the sunset just yet, as she cited breaking another school record in the 100 hurdles and having her team finish in the top three of the Horizon League as remaining goals, given that she is in her senior season, it can be hard not to think of the possibilities that lie ahead.
“As life goes on, one dream comes true, and then unfortunately, that may come to an end, like college track,” said Hart, who cited having a close-knit team as one of the keys to her success. “But it happens, so now I’m working on my next goal in life. I am really excited to move on with my life — live outside of being an athlete and growing up a little bit more.”
Hart plans to pursue a post-graduate degree.