Basketball sophomore Jessica Brooks on a double-overtime win over Chicago, her gameday playlist and her TikTok feed
Jessica Brooks is playing her first collegiate basketball season and already making an impact for the Bears. The sophomore has played in 14 games this season for the Bears, scoring 12.4 points per game and leading the team with 16 steals. She also knows how to show up for the team at the right time — Brooks scored 32 points in the double-overtime win against the University of Chicago earlier this month, going 5-5 in free throws. Brooks sat down with Student Life this week to chat about her first season with the Bears after a sidelined freshman year.
This interview has been edited slightly for length and clarity.
Student Life: Talk to me first about selecting WashU. You grew up in St. Louis, not too far away. So what was your initial draw to the university?
Jessica Brooks: It’s funny — I always told my parents, “I’m going a plane ride away — you guys cannot see me on the weekends.” I didn’t want to be in St. Louis. And then my mom was like, just take a look at WashU — you never know. Coach [Randi] Henderson had reached out to me and we set up a meeting, and I loved her. And then I toured the campus and loved it. I applied ED1, committed early in my senior year and I love it.
SL: And so do you see your parents often?
JB: I was at home last night for dinner. So all the time!
SL: You’ve been waiting for this season for a while — you had all last year to think about it. So what was your focus last spring when there was no University Athletic Association play?
JB: It was a lot of support from the other girls. They were like, “Our time is coming. We’ll get to play eventually.” That was a lot of our motivation over the summer — just that we didn’t get to play last year, so we had to come out ready to go this year. I think we just realized that we deserve this. We earned this — let’s just make the most of it.
SL: This is a pretty young team — you have a big junior class, but also two classes who are in their first season for the Bears. What do you see as your role on the team?
JB: Coach talks a lot about roles and what each person can do and how that impacts the team in a positive way. But I think my role is just to bring a lot of energy and competitiveness to practice and not make it easy on anyone with defensive possessions.
SL: One of the most electrifying moments for me this season was the double overtime against Chicago. Any time we play Chicago it’s incredibly high stakes. So talk to me about having a huge day at the right time — you scored 32 points, which is insane.
JB: That was honestly better than Christmas, one of the highlights of my life. I think we all just came into it like, “Okay, we’re here — we need to set the tone for UAA.” We pictured it as that yes, our record was whatever non-conference, but in the UAA we were 0-0. We realized that these are the games we need. And I think we just came out really ready to go. It’s a huge win, because we’ve lost so many games by such few numbers. To get that tough, close game gave us a lot of momentum going into the rest of the UAA. Also, I’d never been in a game where we scored 100 points. That was awesome. Just celebrating with each other on the bus, back home and in the locker room, it was honestly a movie. I feel like it was a scene from High School Musical or something — it was awesome.
SL: Absolutely incredible. What have been the best traditions or just things that you’ve been able to do in person this fall?
JB: Traveling has been huge. We were on the road for our first four games, which was kind of tough, but it was also super fun to get to know people traveling with each other. We also sing some songs before the game, which is nice because it’s like I’m in on the tradition now. I’ve seen them do it, I’ve heard them do it, but now I get to be a part of that.
SL: So to pump you up before the game, what will you be listening to then?
JB: Um, I listened to a lot of Pitbull. And then the song that I play right as we’re walking into the gym is “Feeling Good” by Michael Buble.
SL: Michael Buble is definitely more than just a Christmas music guy. So talk to me a little bit about what you’re up to outside of basketball. What fills your time right now?
JB: Over Winter Break, I did a lot of reading. I read “They Both Die at the End” and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”, and they were both really good — definitely recommend. I’m on my phone a lot and I watch TikToks. Other than that, I take a lot of naps and sometimes just drive around and listen to music.
SL: What’s on your TikTok feed right now?
JB: Recently, I’ve been on travel TikTok because I want to leave so badly and go somewhere warm. So like, a lot of vacation spots. And then I recently got onto lifestyle home TikTok where people do cool organizations of their fridge and stuff like that. It’s amazing.
SL: And among your friends, what do you think you’re best known for?
JB: I feel like I dance a lot, whether it’s hitting a random TikTok dance or something like that. A lot of times, I’ll just be dancing randomly, so I guess I’ll go with that!
SL: Amazing. I have one last — and maybe most important — question that we’ve been asking everyone. Would you rather adopt a child every time you hear Bohemian Rhapsody or have fish for hands?
JB: This is so tough. I think adopt a child? I feel like I don’t hear that song very much. But I guess I don’t think about it when I hear it. So I don’t know.
StudLife’s Athlete of the Week ‘Would You Rather Tracker?’: Bohemian Rhapsody: 4 – Fish: 1
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