Gilbert brings competitive experience to Soccer
Aug. 1, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas – There’s no rest for the weary, and this is a cliché Texas Soccer’s Brooke Gilbert knows all too well.
Back home for the summer in her native Seattle, the sophomore defender made it through a one-day tryout for the Seattle Sounders practice squad. The Sounders play in the USL W-League and feature six U.S. Women’s National Team players, including Hope Solo and Stephanie Cox.
“When they were not there, there were six open spots. The team was always changing,” Gilbert said. “For each game, they would pick a team from the pool of practice players.”
Gilbert ended up playing in eight matches for the Sounders, which advanced to the Western Conference finals.
“I made every roster, but I was not always on the starting lineup, so I had to be ready to play,” Gilbert said. “Put in there, playing with professionals, it helped me play under pressure. I got to play with Hope Solo behind me and Stephanie Cox to my right.”
Gilbert was the youngest on the roster and said Cox was generous to take her under wing and explain the tactics of the game. Now, Gilbert returns to Austin just in time to join first-year Texas Soccer coach Angela Kelly and the Longhorns for preseason training, which begins Thursday morning.
UT hosts Texas State on Friday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m. in an exhibition friendly before opening the season against Dayton on Friday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Gilbert hopes her summer of soccer will have a positive carryover into the 2012 season. The experience of fighting for a tenuous roster spot each and every practice has left her mentally stronger, and the constant training helped maintain her competitive fitness.
It’s a matter of bringing those intangibles to the pitch and locker room.
“Everyone is excited to play again and play together,” Gilbert said. “We have all either been playing on different teams, at home training or in Austin. Plus, we have 11 new faces. Everyone is excited to finally get together and see the talent we have.”
Though the Longhorns went through a spring season with Kelly, Gilbert says they are all bonded by the fact that this is new training territory with a new coach.
“It brings us together because we don’t know what to expect,” Gilbert said. “We are all in this together, to learn together and do whatever it takes. This season will only work if we are a team. I think I have a different role this year. Though I am still a sophomore, with my experience, I have to carry more of a load and be a stronger leader.”