ROCK ISLAND — Most middle-school aged girls are busy on their phone, thinking about their next outfit or shoes and wondering who might ask them to the spring dance.
Brea Beal spent her time thinking about basketball and where she might go to play hoops at the NCAA Division I level.
Now, a Rock Island senior, Beal has a full-ride to play at national power South Carolina and she is thrilled despite having missed a few kids things when she was younger.
Beal also has RI's all-time scoring record for girls and boys, is the Western Big 6's girls scoring record holder and on Thursday became the WB6's all-time scoring leader to earn Metro Pacesetter honors for the Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.
Beal followed up her record-setting night on Thursday with an even more impressive day Monday at the DeKalb MLK Classic. The Rocks won three games over teams with a combined record of 58-8, including previously unbeaten Rockford Boylan in a battle of Top 5 state-ranked squads.
In those three games, Beal tallied 107 points (35.7 per game and including a single-game record of 40 in the semifinals) plus 49 rebounds (16.3 per game) en route to MVP honors.
"I just started getting into basketball when I was six or seven years old," Beal said. "When I got to about sixth grade, my dad started me on the early morning or late-night workouts.
"There were some times when I was like 'OK, my friends are doing fun things that I want to do,' but I'm sure glad my dad kept me on the basketball path. Where I am at right now ... I'm grateful."
Dad, Kevin Beal, was not the only one who knew Brea was something special when she was in sixth grade. Moline coach Tracy Sant Amour saw a superstar in the making when she was coaching in summer ball.
"I remember watching her play in sixth grade when she was playing up a level or two," Sant Amour said. "She was always dedicated and a player who had a great work ethic. You could see she was one of those different players."
Beal realized how good she could be when as a seventh grader she was moved up to a 17U travel team — and dominating at times.
"There was that and then when I started getting tons of letters from colleges," she said. "I think playing up and seeing all those letters matured me a lot."
By the time she was playing at Edison Junior High, Beal was well known around the high-school basketball world. She was being interviewed by Quad-Cities TV stations and featured in this paper. That meant a lot of pressure was beginning to fall upon her shoulders.
For the first time, Beal seems to be playing with no pressure during her senior year.
"I think her making the decision (to sign with South Carolina) and that she is a senior who has played under pressure for three years has changed Brea," RI coach Henry Hall said. "She is having fun, smiling and enjoying her teammates."'
Said Beal, "I don't feel like there is any pressure on me. I have learned over the past three years that sometimes you do all you can do and it may not end the way you hoped. That's all you can do is play your hardest. Definitely, I want to win a state title for Rock Island. That would be a great way for it to end."
If that were to happen, it would be because Beal and fellow senior Carlee Camlin had to build a young team into a state power again.
"These young ones are really easy learners," Beal said. "They understand they need to surround players who have been there before. At the beginning of this season, I was worried they would be mature enough, but they have been amazing.
"They are easily my best team here in my four years. I don't worry about them at all."
Hall added, "Brea and Carlee have been more than leaders, they have taken a bunch of puppies and made them into a team."
As many accolades as Beal has earned, there is so much more ahead for her.
"I don't want to think about this season ending and her playing her last game here," Hall said, "but we also know there are no limits to what she will do in the game. Think about what she is going to be when she is in the weight room every day and it's all about basketball and classes. It is going to be pretty special."
And what Beal has done the last four basketball seasons is help the girls' basketball world in Rock Island and around the Quad-Cities area.
"At Moline, we have always had the highest respect for Brea," Sant Amour said. "Our girls love it that they get to play against her and take on the challenge of guarding her.
"It is good for the conference, for girls basketball and for the Quad-Cities community. This is just huge for young kids who get to see her play. I am excited to see what she does at South Carolina. We all hope she does very well. I hope she goes out there and does the same thing (former Rocky teammate) Chrislyn (Carr) is doing at Texas Tech."
Maybe missing a few teenager things isn't so bad after all.