BELTON- Jaycie Brisco has been competing her whole life. And she has never turned down a challenge.
That is to be expected when you grow up with a twin brother, go to a 2A high school, and play alongside the same group for four years. Naturally, a competitive edge will start to build.
“I give it all to my brother and my cousins,” Brisco said with a laugh. “We were out playing football, basketball, everything when we were little and [that competitiveness] built from there. I want to win.”
She has helped the UMHB women’s basketball team, ranked No. 22 in the nation, do plenty of that as of late. The Crusaders are 13-4, and in their most recent victory, a 65-57 defeat of Concordia on Saturday, Brisco led the team in both rebounds and assists.
“It’s been a big adjustment from my last school, just because there is a winning atmosphere here,” Brisco noted. “The girls have been really welcoming. The campus is beautiful. I love it here.”
Indeed, Brisco has had to find her place within the 27-player squad, though she is not alone in the fact that she is a newcomer. Of the 11 averaging above 10 minutes per game, six are in the first year in the program, either as transfer or a true freshman. Brisco is one of just two newcomers averaging 20 minutes per game.
She spent last season at Southwestern Assemblies of God in Waxahachie, and by most metrics, had a spectacular freshman year, considering the adjustment to the collegiate level of play. She started 27 of SAGU’s 28 games, was the only player on the team who averaged 30 minutes a contest, dished out 108 assists (the second highest was 69), and led the Lions in rebounds, at 7.3 per game.
“Jaycie is a natural leader and competitor,” Micah Goebel, who coached Brisco for four years at Snook High School, recently said. “I feel like she thrived in the heat of the moment and her composure and competitiveness were contagious to her other teammates.”
Goebel knew of Brisco’s talents on the court well before any college program did. And as the years went by, she saw Brisco go from being a talented freshman adjusting to the high school level to a seasoned veteran, manning the point guard position with ease by the time she reached her senior year.
“As a coach, I had high expectations and put a lot of pressure on my point guards,” Goebel recalled. “They are like the “quarterback” of the team, and all offense runs through them. Jaycie studied so much of the game and watched so much film, it was like having another assistant coach out there on the flow with her as a point guard.”
She quite literally witnessed the very beginnings of Brisco’s basketball career. There was a group in the Burleson County town, situated about 13 miles southwest of College Station, that started playing together in early elementary school, as part of the “Little Dribblers” program. Fast forward about a decade, then a few years more, and that group of about six captivated the town of 506, making a memorable run to the UIL 2A state semifinals as seniors, finishing the year with a 27-4 record.
“There was a group that started together in little dribblers,” Goebel added. “You do not see that many continue to play together all through high school at a small 2A school, many athletes will go different routes or specialize in other sports. They had a lot of early success, I think getting that taste of success drove that group. They had the goal of going to state since those little dribblers days.”
Having familiarity played a key role in Brisco’s confidence, as she was put in the somewhat challenging position of starting as a freshman for the Blue Jays. Years down the road, now in back-to-back seasons with new college teams, it seems that experience of learning to “fit in” while at the same time stepping up and taking charge, has served Brisco well.
“It was a big adjustment,” Brisco remembers. “But I grew up playing with the same six girls all my life, so it was just one bigger step.”
Alvie King has watched Brisco’s improvement in the short span of time since she debuted with SAGU at the college level. A renowned shooting coach who formerly led the boys basketball programs in Milano and Mumford, King has worked with plenty of top-notch shooters, and had high praise for Brisco’s development.
“I teach shooting a little differently than most, but she is very coachable,” King said. “She is very unselfish and does a lot that doesn’t show up on the box score. She seems to make big shots. She may have eight points, but six of them will come in crunch time.”
The fact that Goebel equated Brisco’s presence on the floor for Snook to “having another assistant coach” is fitting, because that is exactly what the UMHB guard plans to pursue when her collegiate career wraps up, and she graduates with a degree in mathematics.
“I definitely give that credit to Micah Goebel,” Brisco said of her goal to eventually become a coach. ”She was a great inspiration to me and a big role model in high school.”
For now, she is setting her sights on finishing her sophomore year strong with the Cru, who are set to host East Texas Baptist in a key ASC matchup Thursday night in Belton. Toughness will be key, and as she has shown time and time again, going back to the one-on-one basketball battles in the driveway against her twin brother growing up, the leadership she displayed at Snook, and the resilience to make an impact as a transfer in Belton, it is not a quality Brisco’s skill set lacks.
“Jaycie has a lot of skills that you can’t teach, like her ability to see the floor and create,” Goebel said. “This really allows her to be a step ahead of everyone out there. Lots of players can have some success, but what sets athletes, like Jaycie apart is their mental toughness, and she is as tough as they come.”