Few names are bigger to Triangle hockey fans than Rod Brind’Amour.
But to daughter Briley, the former Carolina Hurricanes star is simply a dad who had to learn the rules of her sport, volleyball.
Briley Brind’Amour sat in a Cardinal Gibbons High conference room recently and smiled as she awaited yet another question about what it’s like to be an athlete with such a well-known name.
“When he comes to my matches, he gets nervous and stands off to the side or in a corner,” Briley, 16 and a 6-foot-1 junior, said of her dad, who was captain of the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Hurricanes. “He didn’t really know the game at first, but he’s gotten to like volleyball a lot more. Sometimes he’ll ask me, ‘What did that play mean?’ ”
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Briley Brind’Amour helped Gibbons to the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A championship in 2013. The title was the Crusaders’ six straight and 16th in the last 17 years.
The undefeated Crusaders play a second round playoff game at home Tueday night against Cleveland.
Rod Brind’Amour, a Canes assistant coach, said he had a lot to learn about volleyball.
“When I started going to her club tournaments with 150 girls of all ages playing on courts all over the gym, it really opened my eyes,” he said. “I didn’t realize how big volleyball was. I’ve fallen in love with the sport; it’s really exciting.”
Briley Brind’Amour is the oldest of three children from Rod Brind’Amour’s first marriage. Skyler, a 6-foot Gibbons freshman, plays youth hockey, but he is starting to prefer basketball and faces a tough balancing act between the two winter sports. Brother Reece, an eighth-grader, is into competitive cheer. Rod Brind’Amour also has a son, Brooks, from his second marriage.
Briley Brind’Amour said her father’s success has not created any pressure for her as a volleyball player.
“I don’t even think about it,” Briley said. “I want to make him proud, but it’s a different path. I don’t really feel like I’m following him. I know that he worked hard to get to where he’s at, so that’s inspirational to me. He’s a great person to look up to.”
Gibbons coach Logan Barber said Briley Brind’Amour handles pressure situations well.
“She does a very good job of being focused,” Barber said. “Even when she was a freshman – and there is some pressure playing here with the state championship expectations – there was never a time when it seemed like it got to a point she seemed afraid of the pressure.”
Briley has developed into a Division I college recruit with what Barber calls “a physicality” he saw in a 14-year-old freshman able to compete against seniors.
“She can bring power when she is attacking,” Barber said. “She also can transition her game. She knows the intelligent play isn’t always to go full speed and to sometimes make a smart shot. She is an extremely intelligent player who can do things you can’t teach. ”
Her teammates respect her as one of the girls on and off the court.
“She’s humble when she talks about volleyball,” said Gibbons junior Mia Fradenburg, a teammate since sixth grade. “I respect her consistency. She’s not up and down. If the team is struggling, she pulls us back up.”