Editor’s Note: Above image of Brooke Elliott provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
BELTON, Texas- As she looks back on her career at UMHB, Brooke Elliott has certainly had a unique four years in Belton.
The guard has seen the women’s basketball program flourish under head coach Mark Morefield’s guidance, played alongside current assistant coach Haven Neal, been on teams that have made history by reaching the NCAA Tournament and winning a conference title for the first time, and gone from being a junior coming off the bench to a senior who the rest of the team looks to for leadership.
“Being the only senior, it is pretty cool because I actually got to play with Haven [Neal] as a freshman,” said Elliott. “It has been interesting to see the team grow every year.”
Two other graduate students are on this year’s team, but Elliott is the only one who has been in the program for all four years. When it comes to the growth of the program, it was something hard for even Elliott to put into words.
“We’ve had some new recruits, we’ve had transfers such as [Madison McCoy and Taylor Kollmorgen],” said Elliott when asked how the team has changed from year to year. “It’s been really cool playing with a different group of freshmen each year and experiencing that with all of them.”
Driven by those newcomers each season, the Cru reached new heights during Elliott’s sophomore year in 2018-19, in which the Cru clinched a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history.
“Two years ago when we played ETBU to get into the championship game for the ASC tournament, we beat them by a buzzer beater and I remember [Coach] Morefield running onto the court,” said Elliott, also noting her similar excitement in that moment.
She would play just seven minutes in that contest, and did not score, but came back the following day to play 18 minutes in a 63-58 loss in the ASC championship game to UT Dallas. As it turned out, the Cru clinched an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and would reach the Sweet Sixteen before falling to Washington University St. Louis.
But one year later, it was Elliott, along with the senior trio of Hannah Holt, Alecia Blackwell and Kendall Rollins that helped UMHB to not only win its first ASC conference championship, but also reach the Sweet Sixteen once again, this time losing out on an opportunity to go further due to Covid-19.
In the narrow 60-58 win over Hardin-Simmons to win the ASC, Elliott scored four points, to go along with two rebounds.
But perhaps the biggest example of her progress as a Crusader has come this season. As the program’s lone four-year player, the Georgetown, Texas native has stepped into an increased leadership role, especially on a young team that features eight freshmen.
“I enjoy it,” said Elliott of stepping into a leadership role. “I’m not really a vocal leader but I try to lead by actions as well. In practice I’ll encourage people and keep them going on the court.”
Morefield had high praise for Elliott, who has seen time as the Cru’s primary ballhandler this season and heads into Thursday’s home contest against Sul Ross State averaging 5.1 points, 2.0 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game in 14 starts.
“She’s been a key contributor,” said Morefield when asked about the impact Elliott has had during her collegiate career. “Over four years, she has consistently played, between starting in some games and coming off the bench. For four years, she’s consistently been in the rotation. She’s been to all three ASC Championship games we’ve participated in since her freshman year, and been to two Sweet Sixteens. That’s the thing about Brooke, she’s always been a steady presence.”
Elliott has not made it public yet as to whether she will use the extra year of eligibility granted by the NCAA and return for a fifth season in 2021-2022, or move on. However, regardless of the path she chooses, she will always have a special place in this program, especially considering she was one of the first guards that fit the style of play Morefield was trying to instill in the early years of his tenure.
“Trying to go with the direction of guards that we wanted, she was kind of that first one, that quick, athletic guard,” said Morefield. “That’s was a big thing as we were turning the program around. She’s been somebody that we’ve been able to count on.”