Freshman to continue career as two-sport athlete

Aisha Brown de-committed from the University of Louisville as a high school senior to seek an opportunity to play soccer and compete in the high jump in college.

Freshman defender Aisha Brown (left), keeps the ball out of her opponent’s reach during a scrimmage at practice on Aug. 2. Brown will also compete in the high jump for the Owls’ track & field team. SYDNEY SCHAEFER | THE TEMPLE NEWS

Aisha Brown’s goal was to play soccer and continue her high-jump career at the Division I level, and she would not settle for just one.

During her sophomore year of high school, Aisha Brown verbally committed to the University of Louisville for a soccer scholarship.

When Brown committed to Louisville, there was an agreement with coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes that she would be allowed the opportunity to walk on as a high jumper for the track & field team. By the start of Brown’s senior year, this was no longer the case.

Brown made one of the biggest decisions of her life by decommitting from Louisville and deciding to redo the recruiting process. She signed with Temple and will begin her freshman year as a defender on the soccer team before competing in the high jump during track & field season.

“Ultimately, I think she thought I was going to pick soccer over high jump,” Brown said. “I just couldn’t see myself doing that just because a coach wanted me to.”

It is common that Division I soccer programs will have most of their recruiting classes lined up two or three years in advance, coach Seamus O’Connor said. Track & field recruiting classes, however, are often completed within a year of athletes starting their college careers, coach Elvis Forde said.

During her sophomore track & field season at Patriot High School in Virginia, Brown broke the school’s high jump record. In her junior indoor season, she won the state championship in the high jump.

Brown earned two all-state honors during her soccer career and played on a defense that only conceded two goals during her senior season.

With just less than a full year left before Brown planned on starting her college soccer career, she decided to retry the recruiting process.

The second go-around for Brown was an educated decision fueled by the mistake she made the first time. It was not going to be rushed, and she focused more on what she deemed most important. She required a school that would allow her to high jump and play soccer. She also sought a program well-suited for a prospective medical student.

For Brown, it came down to three schools Howard University, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Temple. The passion O’Connor and Forde showed for their respective sports solidified her choice, Brown said.

O’Connor and Forde’s willingness to communicate with each other about a mutual athlete stood out from all other choices, Brown said. The open-mindedness and encouragement to allow her to participate in two sports is something Brown did not find to be common among other schools.

“I don’t know if coaches are afraid to have their players participate in other sports or what exactly it is,” O’Connor said. “We actually encourage our girls to participate in other sports outside of soccer, even if it’s intramural basketball or something, just because a lot of the injuries I see are repetition injuries of kids only using the same muscles over and over again.”

Landing a recruit like Brown was an unexpected gift for O’Connor. He’d seen Brown play in tournaments and liked what he saw, but gave up any hope of landing her at Temple when he found out she committed to Louisville.

When Brown decided to reach out to potential schools the second time around, she decided to do it from the track perspective because soccer coaches tend to fill their rosters earlier. Forde informed O’Connor that Brown had de-committed and was considering participating in the high jump and playing soccer for the Owls.

“When I was asked by the track coaches if I would have interest in Aisha, I was like ‘Heck yeah,’” O’Connor said. “She’s a very good soccer player, and I’m definitely on board with her playing two sports.”

O’Connor and Forde are both confident Brown will be able to handle playing two Division I sports and classes as a freshman. The two coaches laid out a plan to not overlap practices and have her participate in team activities only while the respective sport is in season.

“I was too young to know what I wanted when I committed to Louisville during sophomore year,” Brown said. “I had to give myself a chance to at least try to play both.”

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