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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

From the world stage to the Palouse: Meet Liya Brooks

The freshman’s already colorful career on the soccer pitch is only getting started
Kevin Travers/WSU Athletics
Liya Brooks defends the goal in a WSU soccer practice.

With such high levels of success in recent years, there is no questioning the quality of the talent present on the WSU soccer team’s roster. This year, the team is joined by freshman goalkeeper Liya Brooks, who spent her summer playing at the international level in the Women’s World Cup with the Jamaican National Team.

Brooks began playing soccer when she was eight years old at her local YMCA in Montclair, New Jersey, in addition to participating in summer camps in Jamaica. 

“I would go to Jamacia for the summer and visit my uncles, and my parents would just kinda drop me off there,” Brooks said.

It was at age 10 that she stepped into the role of keeper for the first time.

“One practice, our coach had everyone rotate in the goal, and we were taking penalty kicks,” Brooks said. “I saved one, and he was like ‘Oh, great, we have a new goalie!’”

Two years after finding a passion for soccer, Brooks moved to Hawaii, where she played for the Honolulu Bulls and the Hawaii Surf Soccer Club. Following another move to Eugene, Oregon, almost two years ago, Brooks began practicing with the Portland Thorns Academy and later playing for the Eugene Metro FC.

When she started to receive offers the summer of her junior year, Brooks says she began seriously considering the opportunity to play at the collegiate level. A huge factor in her decision to choose WSU was the college-town atmosphere of Pullman, something she loved about living in Eugene, Brooks said.

Another reason? The sense of community and spirit shared by Cougs everywhere.

“I’d just be wearing my Wazzu sweatshirt before I even signed or anything, and I’d be on a plane and someone would be like, ‘Go Cougs!’” Brooks said.

Joined by seven other freshman players on this year’s roster, Brooks said that she’s grown very close with her teammates, having built close bonds with the younger girls and sharing a mutual respect with the elders. She said that the team works closely together under the leadership and guidance of head coach Todd Shulenberger.

“I love his passion,” Brooks said. “He’s a very driven person, and you can tell that he really cares about the team and about the players as individuals.”

Beyond the rolling hills of the Palouse, Brooks is making a name for herself internationally. Having earned her spot on the Jamaican National U-20 team when she was 16, Brooks was called up to the senior team in September of last year at age 17.

“From there, I’ve just been going to pretty much every camp, and getting to play with really good people and players that I’ve looked up to,” Brooks said. 

This past summer, Brooks joined the Jamaican Women’s National Team — a.k.a. the ‘Reggae Girlz’ — on their historical campaign at the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

For the first time, the Reggae Girlz advanced beyond the group stage and into the 16th round of the World Cup. Brooks was there, on the sidelines, when the Reggae Girlz made history, winning their first-ever World Cup match, 1-0 against Panama.

“It was just an ‘I made it’ moment,” Brooks said.

While her Cougar teammates welcomed No. 2 Stanford at home on Sept. 22, Brooks was away with the Reggae Girlz, competing in the CONCACAF Olympic Play-In for Paris 2024 in Kingston, Jamaica. The Jamaican Women’s National Team lost 2-1 to defending gold medalists Canada on Sept. 26.

Not every collegiate player can claim they handle such obligations, but Brooks says that her two teams share a lot of similarities. The physical requirements of practice with WSU help her better prepare for her national team responsibilities.

“When you go to these camps for the national team, they expect you to be fit and they expect you to be ready to play, and only needing to take tactical coaching advice,” Brooks said. “All my hard work at school has led me to feel comfortable and confident in my playing abilities with this [national] team.”

Now over halfway through her freshman season at WSU, Brooks said that she wants to leave an impact when the time is right.

“I’m not rushing into anything. Obviously, seeing the field would be nice, but I know my place. I know that I still have to learn from a lot of people,” Brooks said. “[I want to] just do my best to influence others on and off the field.”

Brooks’ future is bright, with the hope of playing professionally post-grad.

“I hope that my voice carries enough so that people know I’m genuinely rooting for them,” Brooks said.

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KEDZIE MOE, Editor-in-chief
Kedzie is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Evergreen for the summer and fall of 2024. She began working at the Evergreen as a sportswriter in the fall of '23 and took on the additional role of copy editor in the spring of '24. She is a junior public relations major from Seattle, Washington.

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  • Poppa BigOct 17, 2023 at 7:15 pm

    Go Cougz…Yaay Reggae Girlz