'It's kind of bittersweet': Brookville valedictorian, wrestler, drum major reflects on high school career

May 27—Lily Zimmerlin is excited about her future and happy with her history as she finishes up her time at Brookville High School.

Wrestling is a big part of both for the BHS valedictorian.

"Honestly it's kind of bittersweet," said Zimmerlin, who was named Academic All-Ohio in wrestling, ran cross country and played soccer for the Lady Devils, and was the drum major for the band.

"I'm proud of all I've accomplished in high school," said Zimmerlin. "I feel like I've managed to do a lot, but I'm sad that I'm gonna have to leave behind my coaches and my teammates as we're all going off to like different schools, but at the same time I'm really excited for college."

She finished fourth at 170 pounds in the regional wrestling tournament as a sophomore and third this year at 145 to advance to the state meet, where she won a consolation match this year. She was fifth at 155 as a junior at regionals.

Along the way, she caught the eye of Katlyn Pizzo, who coaches women's wrestling at Alma College in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

"She had genuine interest in not just my athletic ability, but me as a person, and I think that already had sold me," Zimmerlin said. "I took a visit. The campus is beautiful, and it's such a great institution. The academics are also really, really strong there. So I mean, it was kind of a no-brainer once I had really been introduced to the school."

Zimmerlin's parents might not have been enthusiastic to hear she was interested in joining the burgeoning girls high school wrestling scene a few years ago, but her father said looking back now Lily made the right decision.

"She had a lot of challenges her first year, but wrestling I think completely changed her trajectory," James Zimmerlin said. "It has made her significantly more physically fit, headstrong. She developed a lot of leadership skills that I don't think she had prior to joining wrestling. And it really kind of set that tone for where she's at today and where she's gonna go in the next four years."

That includes majoring in integrated physiology and health science with the intent to go to grad school and become a sports nutritionist.

"When I started wrestling, I started getting into lifting (and) all these other things," she said. "So I started becoming a lot more drawn to science, and now I'm going to be a STEM major."

She credited two people at Brookville with seeding her interest in wrestling: Classmate Rita Carey and teacher Deana Herbert, who coaches the Lady Devil wrestlers.

"Lily has continually improved herself in both academics and athletics," Herbert said. "She developed time management skills that allowed her to balance her obligations. She likes to push herself to do challenging things especially when it comes to learning new information and skills.

"Wrestling has taught her that if she can do hard things that she may be afraid to attempt, she can enjoy the process of being successful even more," Herbert said. "She appreciates the principles the wrestling team had as well as their belief that academics come first."

Before leaving for college, Zimmerlin will get one more chance to wrestle with Carey as part of the Ohio national team at the Junior National Duals in Tulsa, Oka., in June.

"I'm excited to wrestle in college," she said. "I think that it's going to be really cool to see the sport really blow up in the next couple years and to get to be a part of that experience, but yeah, I'm definitely sad to leave behind my coaches and my teammates, because I mean, that's where it all started."


The Dayton Daily News is honoring graduating seniors who overcame challenges in their high school careers. Five students were selected through nominations from their schools, friends and family and will be profiled throughout the week in the Dayton Daily News.