Sports Odds & Ends
There are approximately 100 African American and other student-athletes of color this school year at the University of Minnesota. In an occasional series throughout the school year and sports year, the MSR will highlight many of these players. This week: Gopher soccer players Izzy and Amelia Brown
Minnesota is one of eight NCAA Division I soccer teams with two sets of sisters. Graduate student Izzy Brown and sister Amelia Brown, who will be a sophomore this fall, are the team’s only Black players.
The Gophers recently completed its spring soccer schedule. We caught up with the Browns after a match against St. Thomas at the football indoor practice facility.
“This spring is all about building for a team…a time to try out new things,” explained Izzy. “It’s really a time to grow.”
When the 2023 season begins this fall, it will be only the second time that the Brown sisters have been teammates at any level. Last season, Izzy had the first hat trick as a Gopher since 2017—she transferred after two seasons from North Carolina and played in all 17 matches in 2021. Amelia appeared last season in 15 of 19 matches in 2022, her freshman year.
Izzy is a forward; Amelia is a midfielder. The two sisters wear uniform numbers that are reversed—No. 25 for Amelia and No. 52 for Izzy.
“I’ve watched her all my life, all throughout club [soccer],” said Amelia of her sister. “I think I’ve always had an idea of how to play with her and how to support her. Being able to play with her,” she added, “I love playing with my sister.”
The siblings are two of Chucky and Melanie Brown’s four children. Their father is a former college basketball star at North Carolina State who played 13 NBA seasons and was on a league championship team (Houston).
The Brown sisters claim their athleticism from both parents. “My mom was a ballerina,” noted Izzy. “We not only have athleticism, but we have quick feet. We’ve got long legs and good genes.”
When asked if their father influenced their decision to play sports, Izzy said, “He’s been nothing but supportive. He’s never pushed us to do anything that we didn’t want to do, like playing sports and playing soccer. And even when we did play basketball, that was our decision and not his. I think even if we didn’t play sports and chose to do something else, he would still be 110 percent and love us for who we are.”
“I would definitely say part of soccer skills is having a positive attitude,” added Amelia, “and I would definitely say I got that from my mom. [And] the pure athleticism from my dad.”
Being a historical footnote as the first set of Black siblings to play Minnesota soccer, and currently, the only set of siblings of color playing Division I soccer, is not lost on the Brown sisters.
“It’s really exciting, but we’re pushing every day not just to be better for ourselves individually…but collectively and for the program,” said Izzy. “It’s just also getting better every time we step on the field.”
Izzy is now working on her second degree. “I graduated last fall with my bachelor’s in communications, and I started a master’s program in sport management. I’ve been doing an internship” in sport marketing, she pointed out.
Amelia is undecided on her major. “Honestly I have no idea what I want to do,” she admitted, smiling. “I do know I want to stay in sports, whether that’s playing professional [soccer], or if I want to be a coach, or if I want to be on the marketing side or management side.
“I just know I want to stay connected to sports somehow,” said Amelia.
“I think I’d be interested in something in athletic communications or photography,” said Izzy, who quickly clarified, “When I graduate, I want to go to the draft and play pro.”
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