Freshman outfielder Brianna Brown fell in love with softball at a young age and has finally been able to express that passion on the field with Penn.
The Tinley Park, Ill. native grew up with a mother and aunt who both played collegiate sports. From basketball to gymnastics to taekwondo, Brown tried out several different sports throughout her life. The community and family atmosphere in softball, however, is what persuaded her to commit fully to softball.
“I felt like I was able to get the closest with the people I played with in softball,” Brown said. “Softball always just seemed to be the place where there’s the most encouragement. I’m not a fan of solo sports, I really like playing with teammates.”
Even though the start to her freshman year had been virtual in the fall semester, she received that same support and community atmosphere from her Penn teammates. Before she even set foot on campus, her teammates reached out and made an effort to get to know her. When the team finally returned to competition, Brown felt like she was already engrossed in the Penn softball family.
“Penn softball places a really big emphasis on getting to know your teammates and having that good team chemistry,” Brown said. “They really make an effort to be friends with you on and off the field, which I really appreciate.”
Before starting high school, the outfielder ramped up her dedication to softball, but never truly thought about pursuing it collegiately. It was actually her high school coach at Marist, Colleen Phelan, who told Brown she should start reaching out to college coaches. Phelan got to know Brown in sixth grade when she started attending Marist’s softball camps.
“I started giving her slapping lessons, and she was always the most fun, bubbly, energetic, exciting camper that we had. We were very fortunate for her to choose to come to Marist,” Phelan said.
The outgoing personality that Brown had at camp continued throughout her high school career and made her beloved by her teammates. Brown was committed to not only improving herself, but also giving support to her teammates to help them be successful.
Her dedication to her team was rewarded when she was named team captain for her senior season. Although her senior year was virtual due to the pandemic, Brown remained dedicated to her team and focused on keeping the team together over Zoom.
“Just because we didn’t have a season, [her teammates] still looked up to her as a leader because we had a lot of young kids on the team,” Phelan said. “She did a really good job for me all four years, following the rules and leading vocally and by example.”
One of the other things that stood out most to Phelan was Brown’s energy on the field and her speed. In only her third start for the Quakers, against Saint Joseph's, Brown showed that speed with a diving catch in left. Later in the same game, she displayed that speed on the bases when she stole second base after hitting a single.
While softball has been a big part of Brown’s life, her academics were always at the forefront of importance for her. Although Brown was a varsity softball player all four years of high school, she also committed herself to a heavy course load filled with AP courses.
At the start of high school, Brown was dedicated to becoming a veterinarian and was originally drawn to Penn for its veterinary program. Despite no longer being interested in veterinary, she’s excited to tackle a heavy course load at Penn. In her first year, Brown has not yet settled on a major, but is leaning towards pursuing something along the lines of computer science, physics, and math.
Despite the shortened season, Brown has already started five games for the Red and Blue and has made her presence on the field known. With three more seasons at Penn, Brown has the opportunity to continue to do something she’s passionate about, while contributing to Penn’s on-field success.