After a historic four years, TCU soccer’s senior midfielder Gracie Brian will return for one final season as a Graduate player.
Brian is a TCU soccer powerhouse. She broke the university record for all-time assists in this year’s postseason, and her selfless, competitive nature helps the team thrive.
“I want my daughter to grow up to be Gracie Brian,” said Assistant head Coach Ryan Higginbotham.
Brian is the epitome of a college athlete. She loves her teammates and coaches, focuses in the classroom and, most importantly, has a great competitive drive.
“I will take any opportunity I can before I leave,” Brian said.
After four years of starting for TCU soccer and playing in almost every game, Brian is not quite ready to let it go. She is the only senior with an extra year of eligibility, so her decision to return wasn’t a hard one.
“It was easy for me to decide,” Brian said. “For one, I am able to do that next step in my education and then secondly, I always thought no way it’s my senior year and I’m going to be leaving TCU and TCU soccer.”
Brian was introduced to soccer at the age of four when she played on the Lil’ Angels. From that point on, her love for the sport grew.
When she was eight years old, Brian played for the Texans. She was coached by TCU soccer’s current Assistant Coach Ryan Higginbotham.
The midfielder played under Higginbotham until he started coaching full-time at TCU. It is a full circle moment for her to be playing under him again.
“He was hard on me when I was younger and still is,” Brian said.
Higginbotham said it has always been a Joy to Coach Brian because “you knew you were going to get 100% max effort and you know that winning matters to her.”
Higginbotham described Brian as someone who wants to win and doesn’t care about personal glory.
“She wants to win at everything she does,” Higginbotham said. “It’s not about playing time, it’s not about goals, it’s not about assists, it’s about did my team win? If the answer is yes, she’s happy.”
Brian’s trust in her Coach allows her to thrive on the field.
“I think because we have such a good relationship that we have been able to develop over the years,” Brian said. “I trust him so much.”
Brian will finish her career being coached by Higginbotham as she plays one more year at TCU.
“Choosing to spend four of the most important years with someone you trust is a really comforting feeling,” Brian said.
Tournaments are Brian’s favorite way to compete.
“I love competition and I love to compete, so these tournaments are so exciting,” Brian said, beaming. “I love the adrenaline rush.”
Brian’s competitiveness plays a major role in the player she is today.
“From day one, Gracie has always been the most competitive kid, whether it was playing soccer or racing to get her water,” Higginbotham said.
Brian’s competitiveness reflects her selflessness. The player prioritizes team victories over personal stats and playing time. When asked about her TCU assists record, she credited her teammates.
“It’s her competitiveness and her unselfishness,” Higginbotham said. “She doesn’t care how it gets done, so she will gladly give a ball away to let someone else score if the team wins.”
At the beginning of the 2022 season, Brian faced her first major injury that took her out of a few games. These were the only games that Brian didn’t play throughout his time on the Horned Frog soccer team.
Rather than letting the injury tear her down, she saw light in the situation.
“Unfortunately, there will be a day that I have to hang up my boots for good, so knowing it was temporary, I was able to put soccer in its place,” Brian said. “I could tell myself that I was more than just a soccer player, but a human too.”
Oftentimes, Athletes face an identity crisis when dealing with an injury, but Brian was able to take the time to reflect and focus on her faith and who she is.
“My faith is really important to me,” Brian said. “I could say ‘Hey God, you are my solid ground.’”
Brian was able to recover from the injury in time for Big 12 Conference play. From that point on, she had a historic season.
“She’s such a good teammate,” Higginbotham said. “She’s so caring. She’s so genuine.”
Brian’s attitude and overall Joy keeps the team going and allows her to play a major role on and off the field.
TCU soccer’s 2022 season is at its end, but Gracie Brian will be coming back as the only Graduate player and cannot wait for one final season.