Two-sport athlete makes mark on soccer field and track

Aisha Brown led the soccer team in minutes in Fall 2017 and won the high jump on March 17.

Freshman jumper Aisha Brown practices at the Student Training and Recreation Complex on Feb. 2. | JAMIE COTTRELL / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Aisha Brown played in all 18 women’s soccer games last fall and made 17 starts as a defender. She also led the Owls with 1,469 minutes as a freshman.

But when Temple opened its spring season earlier this month against Villanova, Brown didn’t play.

Instead, the two-sport athlete traveled with the track and field team to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the 49er Classic to open the outdoor season on March 16 and 17. Brown won the high jump with a leap of 1.78 meters, which is her personal best.

“The nice thing about Aisha is the 400-meter hurdles and the high jump are two of the only things on her mind right now,” coach Elvis Forde said. “I don’t want to say that she doesn’t think about soccer. But she is so focused on wanting to do really well in track and field that right now I feel like she’s able to compartmentalize the two and focus on the sport that she is in season with.”

Brown is continuing to play both sports, just like she did in high school. During Fall 2017, Brown focused all her attention on coach Seamus O’Connor’s soccer team. Since the start of the indoor track and field season in December, she has shifted her focus to Forde’s squad.

Brown said the two coaches don’t approach her and try to distract her with thoughts on the other sport.

“They have a great relationship,” Brown said. “My favorite thing is that they talk to each other and they’re willing to work with each other. So I’m not distracted from one because of the other, which is very nice. In the first year that we’re doing this, I think it’ll pay off for both teams.”

So far it has. Brown provided a consistent presence on the soccer team’s back line a year after Temple had to deal with nearly a half-dozen injuries.

On the track, Brown has increased her high jump by 0.18 meters since the Great Dane Classic on Jan. 13 in New York. In addition to her win at the 49er Classic, Brown won the high jump at the Villanova Invitational on Feb. 3 during the indoor season.

Brown was a standout in both track and soccer while competing at Patriot High School in Prince William County, Virginia. She broke the school’s high jump record during her sophomore year and won the state championship in the event the following season.

In soccer, Brown earned all-state honors twice. During her senior year, she played on a defense that only gave up two goals.

While she was a sophomore in high school, Brown verbally committed to the University of Louisville for soccer. She and coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes had an agreement that when soccer season was over, Brown would have the chance to compete for a walk-on spot as a high jumper for the track and field team, Brown said.

But at the start of Brown’s senior year of high school, Ferguson-Dayes wanted Brown to commit to soccer and drop track and field, Brown said.

Brown decided to decommit from Louisville and reopen her recruitment.

“That was extremely difficult to deal with,” Brown said. “I was thinking that I had everything set for almost two years. I had even bought all the school spirit wear. Then that all fell apart. I was really stressed out, but I do think that it ended up being for the best. I don’t regret my decision to come to Temple.”

When Brown decommitted from Louisville, she reached out to Forde and his staff first to see if they would still be interested in a dual-sport athlete.

Forde and O’Connor were both on board with the idea of Brown playing both sports.

“Even though we can’t have her all year ‘round, we’d be better off because as a soccer player, she’s an elite talent,” O’Connor said. “Even though we just have her for the fall, the opportunity to have her is, in my opinion, definitely worth it.”

“One of the things that really drew me to Temple was that they allowed me to be on scholarship for both sports,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t have had any power over my decision at Louisville, but here I’m able to do what I enjoy and it’s encouraged by both staffs.”

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