By Dalton Pool
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Brooke Gilbert, a junior center back for The University of Texas Soccer team from Snohomish, Wash., has started every game of her collegiate career for the Longhorns (59 and counting), and so far this season has played every minute of every match. But not only is Gilbert a consistent starter, she is also integral part to a Longhorn defense that on average has allowed less than a goal per game over the past two seasons.
Gilbert’s accomplishments, though, are not limited to her play on the field. In the classroom, Gilbert is a three-time Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selection and was named to the 2012 Academic All-Big 12 First Team. Most recently, Gilbert earned Capital One Academic All-District second-team honors for carrying a 3.54 cumulative grade point average in pursuit of her degree in health promotion.
Longhorn goalkeeper Ava Vogel, who is from the state of Washington herself and who played with Gilbert growing up as a teenager, spoke to her teammate’s commitment and reliability.
“Brooke has always been a great friend and is a great person to look up to,” Vogel said. “She has always been a great leader on and off the field and is the most consistent player I have ever played with.”
Gilbert started her career as a midfielder for the Longhorns, but for the past two seasons has played primarily as a center back for Texas. However, it is evident by her style of play and her ability to go forward and join the attack that she possesses the skills necessary to play anywhere on the pitch. Gilbert has scored six goals during her Longhorn career—four of which occurred this season—and of those six goals, five have been game-winning scores.
Texas head coach Angela Kelly attributes Gilbert’s consistency and success as a soccer player to her mental approach to the game.
“She’s always been a student of the game and is very mature in her decision making,” Kelly said. “A big part of what she does for us is being a great leader on the field, and it has been very enjoyable for me to watch her grow over the past two seasons and become that leader she was born to be.”
Gilbert being a student of the game is evident by her off-season regimen over the past two summers. In 2012 she spent the majority of her summer playing for the Sounders Football Club women’s soccer team out of Seattle, 30 miles from her hometown of Snohomish. The Sounders are a W-League team for which professional and amateur players often spend their off-seasons playing. During her time with the Sounders, Gilbert found herself playing alongside the likes of US National Team members such as Hope Solo, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe.
This past summer Gilbert stayed in the Austin area to work out with her teammates and take summer courses, but she also found her way onto a club team that included top players from other Big 12 schools. The team would travel around Texas taking on various opponents also comprised of collegiate athletes.
Gilbert spoke about her work during the summers and how they have fed her constant desire to improve her skills and learn as much as possible about the game of soccer.
“The summer is all about staying with your touches and remaining as sharp as possible so you are ready for preseason when it comes around,” Gilbert shared. “But it is also fun to play with other players, see different scenarios, and to constantly learn about the game. And I have been fortunate enough to be able to surround myself with such great players that challenge and push me to improve.”
Gilbert’s vast knowledge of the game and great leadership ability help to make her a second coach on the field for the Longhorns. Of course, that is exactly what she wants to be. After she finally hangs up the cleats, Gilbert plans to become a physical education teacher and soccer coach at the high school level.
Gilbert explained her love for the game and her desire to share that with future generations.
“I love being around the game of soccer,” Gilbert said. “And to have a job that allows me to share that love and impact the lives of others would be an incredible opportunity.”
One thing is for certain: if Gilbert approaches teaching and coaching the same way she has approached her time at Texas, then her future pupils will be in for a treat.