Fresh off winning a closely contested The Rocket October Athlete of the Month poll and being named an All-Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) third team member, senior forward Brooke Testa of the Slippery Rock women’s soccer team has a moment to take a step back and relax but only for a second.
“It’s always nice to get recognized by the PSAC conference and the school as well,” Testa admitted. “I definitely couldn’t have done it without this team and what we’ve done this year.”
While sports—soccer and basketball especially—have played a major part in Testa’s life since childhood, academics have never been pushed aside. In fact, academics have arguably been the driving force in Testa’s life as she looks to graduate with a degree in biochemistry and begin her physician’s assistant schooling upon graduation.
Slippery Rock head coach Jessica Griggs has formed a special bond with her star forward over the past four years and Testa’s hard work in the classroom has not gone unnoticed by Griggs who lauded Testa’s efforts in the classroom.
“One of the proudest things I have of Brooke is her academic pursuit,” explained Griggs. “Which I think came on really strong after her sophomore year. She kind of changed her mentality, not that she had a poor mentality, and was like, ‘I’m going to be really big time in the classroom too.’”
In between being a two-time All-PSAC player, second team as a junior and third team as a senior this season, Testa found it challenging to maintain her coursework but never used soccer as an excuse to push her education into a secondary role in her life.
“It’s definitely hard but I try to stay focused. I do stuff on the bus when we go away and in the hotels, and I definitely always stay on top of my homework. It’s tough but manageable,” Testa said.
Ranking 11th in program history in assists (16) and 19th in points (48), the path to stardom was not always easy for Testa. Starting off with a depth role as a freshman, Testa missed time due to injury in her sophomore season and was unable to orchestrate a true breakout season.
Until her junior year, at least. Testa led The Rock with 21 points on six goals and nine assists while also leading the squad in shots (37) and shots on goal (24). Second team All-PSAC and PSAC Scholar-Athlete accolades followed.
Starting slowly for own standards this season, Testa was the driving force for the Green and White down the stretch, with a PSAC tournament spot on the line. With only a goal and four assists in her first ten games as a senior, Testa went on a tear over the last eight games with four goals and two assists to lead The Rock to the eighth seed and a spot in postseason play.
While the matchup with no. 1 seed Bloomsburg in the PSAC quarterfinals ended in heartbreaking fashion, a 1-4 defeat in which The Rock squandered a halftime lead, Testa reflected upon the game and looked back over the season on a positive note despite the tough finish.
“The moment that stood out to me is the switch where I realized that this was going to be the last game with these players, so I definitely tried to enjoy the moment at that point,” Testa commented. “Definitely always the times on the bus and in the locker rooms before games. Those were the best times with these people.”
Griggs, in her fourth year with the team, has watched Testa grow through all the aches and pains of collegiate soccer from an unproven freshman rotational player to a veteran senior star. As a member of Grigg’s first full cycle with SRU, their relationship has always been productive but tumultuous. Griggs said that while not always completely agreeing, their bond is deep.
“It’s really special having your first four-year classes that you coach and Brooke has been one of my first four-year kids here. Her transformation from her first year until now has been really fun to watch and it’s been a challenge,” Griggs laughed. “She and I have had some moments that have tough conversation moments but good ones that help the growth of not just our relationship, but the part of my job to help these girls become more mature and all that.”
As a hardworking, energetic forward dashing up and down the pitch for the past four seasons, Griggs said that while Testa does not always show up in the score sheet, her link up play with her teammates has been the glue to hold the team together—through the highs and lows.
“Brooke’s presence can be really threatening, she’s really good at working off of her midfielder,” said Griggs. “I think one of her best qualities is her ability to link up play in the final third. She might not be the one scoring all the goals, but she certainly links up very well to help everyone on her team contribute.”
While her playing days may be winding to the end, Testa has already received an offer to continue to utilize her soccer knowledge as a coach.
“My dad actually asked me to coach soccer with him, so I have to definitely think about that,” Testa laughed. “But I plan on going to a physician’s assistant school after graduation, so we’ll see.”