CARY, N.C. – Every year, countless college students struggle just to tread water and not go under.
There are research papers to be written, and tests to be taken. The professors? None of them seem to care how much work any of their colleagues have assigned. Theirs is the only class that matters. No excuses are ever good enough.
Add athletics into the mix, and life gets that much more complicated. That’s what makes Brianne Reed’s journey at Rutgers so compelling. She’s done well not only in the classroom, but as a center back on the school’s women’s soccer team.
Here’s just how well she’s done in both.
A day before opening up the Women’s College Cup against Penn State here Friday, Reed was presented with the 2015 Senior CLASS Award for women’s soccer. The honor recognizes the most outstanding senior student-athlete in her sport, and achievements in four areas of excellence – classroom, community, character and competition.
Balancing schedules for college students in general – and student-athletes in particular – is the key. That’s certainly true of her across-the-board success.
"It definitely took some getting used to those first few years,” Reed said. “We practice from 12 to 3, so I would get up in the morning and I’d go to class. Then, I’d go to practice. Then, I’d leave practice sweaty and go to my next class. Sometimes, you don’t get home until 9 at night and you still have your homework to do. It’s definitely a busy lifestyle, but I think I’ve gotten the hang of it. It’s what I signed up for, so I do enjoy it.”
Active in Rutgers’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, her service there has opened up several opportunities for service to the community. Name it, and she’s more than likely done it … Read Across America, the Elijah’s Promise soup kitchen, local hospitals, toy and book drives and school visits.
She knows the platform she’s been given as a talented soccer player, and she’s willing to use it to serve others.
“As athletes, we have such a big platform,” Reed said. “Some might think it’s tough, but I think it’s also a motivator to keep yourself accountable. You have all these young kids in the community who look up to you and aspire to be you, so you have to be able to be there to set that example.
“Honestly, they have questions for you. When we got to the schools, it’s like, ‘What kind of classes did you take? What did you do to get to this point?’ It’s so funny, just being able to share what I’ve done to hopefully inspire them.”
It’s that kind of responsibility and not the attention that keeps Reed on an even keel.
“You remain grounded for them,” Reed continued. “I was in that same position at one point. When I was younger, I didn’t even think I was going to play college sports. I think that’s what keeps me grounded. I’ve been given this opportunity, but just remember that there’s other people who don’t necessarily have that opportunity. So I should be really grateful for it.”
A public health major, Reed thought at first that she might one day become a physician’s assistant. Job shadowing in that area, however, convinced her to do some soul searching. Now, she’s leaning toward getting involved in college athletics as an administrator.
“I’ve spoken with a lot of our staff at Rutgers, just to get an idea of what they do,” Reed said. “I love the environment that I’m in, dealing with student-athletes, whether it’s helping them on the academic support side or even the way-behind-the-scenes stuff of scheduling games and being a part of the decisions for the Big 10 Conference. That would be so cool.”
In the end, it was Reed’s name on the award. But she took special care to recognize those around her.
“I just want to make it clear that when someone wins an award for Rutgers women’s soccer, every single one of my teammates wins that award as well,” she concluded. “Yes, I’m the one who actually received it, but all of the support staff and all of my teammates, they’re the ones who helped me get to the point where I am. So I want to thank them as well.”
Thank them as well? Done.