Bianca Brazil: The Student Behind the Athlete

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Allison Weiss
By Allison Weiss
Student Assistant
FEBRUARY 16, 2017
I

t may be easy to forget sometimes when looking at a box score or a highlight reel that, outside of the spotlight, each athlete is first and foremost a student. They have classes, papers, exams and career goals that extend beyond the field of competition. The dichotomy of their identity as a student-athlete is often hard to separate for the individuals involved, as one component isn’t too far removed from the other in any given situation. For senior Bianca Brazil, her two worlds collided the weekend of Feb. 3 in New York City. She managed to not only compete in the Armory Track Invitational (and achieve a PR with a time of 8.66 in the 60-meter hurdles) but also took her LSAT (Law School Admission Test) exam. The Frisco, Texas, native and her sprints coach, Ronnye Harrison, recalled that weekend and the timing and emotions that led up to it from their own perspective.


BIANCA BRAZIL

On the timing:

“The LSATs are offered in September, December and February. I took the September LSAT and I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. I missed the deadline on the December one since once you take the September one it’s too late to sign up for December. The next opportunity I’d have was the February one. I looked at it and the only time it was available was when we had our New York track meet. Of course, I called my coach and said, ‘I need to take this exam but I don’t want to let down my team. I want to be there for my team.’ It was my first time going to New York and I didn’t want to miss that opportunity. At the same time though, I am a student-athlete, and a student first. The coaches were willing to work with me. Prelims were on Friday and the finals were on Saturday, so they said we’d just take it day-by-day. If I didn’t make the finals, I’d just take the exam. And if I did make finals, we’d just go from there. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the finals on Saturday but I had been preparing for the LSAT for months before so I knew I was ready if I could take it.”

On the test day:

“At first, I thought I was going to have to take the subway, which I was really scared of. It was going to be a 45-minute walk which was probably too long for me to do. Jess Woodard’s parents ended up driving me to the high school. Luckily, they ended up taking me and picking me up which was a really big help.”

On what the testing situation was like:

“I took it at Eleanor Roosevelt High School. It definitely was a different atmosphere than here in Norman when I took it here. In Norman, it was in a classroom I had been in before with people and teachers I had been around and it was a homey feel. In New York, I was so out of place. I walked into a building I had never been to, with people I didn’t know and I felt like an outsider. When you walk into the LSAT exam, you aren’t supposed to have a backpack or phone. I had to go to the track meet right after that so I had to have my backpack and phone. I got yelled at in a New York accent, but they finally realized what I was trying to do and what I was trying to accomplish. When I told them what I was there for, they were more understanding. They saw that I was really dedicated if I was trying to take the test and run at the track meet at the same time. I took the LSAT and it felt way better than it did in Norman. I felt more comfortable and more prepared this time. After that, I went back to the track and all of my teammates were really supportive. Coach Harrison texted me right before saying good luck and that I could do it. It was a really good environment.”

On if anyone else on the team knew she was taking the LSAT that weekend:

“Coach V (VanHootegem) was aware because I had to get permission from him first before Coach Harrison. All of my teammates knew and all were really supportive of it.”

On how difficult it was to handle the two events happening simultaneously:

“It was extremely difficult. The weeks prior to the meet I was studying nonstop. I was literally studying before practice, and at meals. Coach Harrison even let me leave early sometimes or allowed me to get a workout in earlier in the day so that I had time to do practice exams and could continue studying. The weekend of the meet, it definitely was a little stressful. I wanted to focus on my meet but I also wanted to stay up late and study for the LSAT. My roommate that weekend, Olivia (Haggerty), was like, ‘you’ve been preparing for this. You’ve got this. Treat it like a track meet.’ I’ve done all of my warm-ups and I knew what I had to do.”

On if being a student-athlete prepared her for being able to manage the stress and maintain focus:

“Definitely. At a track meet, you’re going to be nervous and you’re not going to know exactly how everything is going to go. You have to be able to adapt to anything. Being a student-athlete and going into the LSAT, I could adapt to the different environment that I was in, the different time zone, those types of things.”

On if she was more nervous taking the LSAT or doing her events:

“I was actually more nervous to take the LSAT, surprisingly. Track, I do it every single day in practice, so I know what to do and what to expect. At the LSAT, it’s kind of like hurdles with the hit-and-miss type thing. It determines the rest of your future. I knew what I came there to do and I really want to go to law school.”

On what type of law she wants to go into:

“I’m still debating between criminal or sports law. Sports have been my whole life pretty much, so I want to have sports somehow in my life. I just want to go and get my law degree. I want to be a sports agent, but you deal with contracts all of the time, so it would be great to have a law degree to fall back on as well.”

On when she will hear back with her results and the next steps:

“It should be any day now. At the latest, in the next couple of weeks. They are pending right now, just waiting on my transcript. They said as soon as the last pieces get in I’ll know. If I get accepted, I’ll go to law school in the fall. Hopefully here, that is my goal.”

On if, looking back at it, she is happy with the way it all worked out:

“I’m definitely happy with how things went. Even though it was nerve wrecking at first, it couldn’t have worked out any better. I was able to do what I had to do, but still be there for my team.”


COACH HARRISON 

On the level of preparation required given the circumstances:

“The preparation for the meet in New York was the same as any other meet that we do. Her situation with trying to get into law school made it such that we had to get permission from Coach V first of all, that she could go to New York, run in the meet, and, given the possibility that she might make the finals, that it was okay that she signed up for the LSAT. She didn’t make the final, but she did PR, so it wasn’t like she gave up on anything. She had been preparing for this and trying to get her scores better so she could hopefully get admitted. The preparation was to get permission and then understand that she has support. That’s really big in any track and field athlete’s life -- that you have support for the other things that you’ll be doing after college.”

On what his initial reaction was:

“Like any coach, there was a concern about priority. But Bianca hasn’t shown any lack of effort in anything that she’s done. With her, it was actually an easy decision to give her the opportunity if we could make it work. She had to find a location, find out the date and time, and how she was going to get there. She had to communicate that to me so that I could communicate it to Coach V about what was going on. I was 100 percent behind it. She’s a great student. She’s a great student-athlete. I just want to see her be a lawyer.”

On how Bianca seemed throughout the week leading up to the events:

“She handled it rather well. We arrived in New York the night before the meet and she hadn’t really talked about it. When we talked about it, she said she was going back to the hotel to study, and that she was ready. I think she was really relaxed about it. From the response that she gave back to me afterward, she thought she did pretty well on it. I think that was because her effort was supported. She wasn’t stressed about it. That’s critical to understand that, while they are our athletes, they do have to live.”

On comparing how she is on the track to how she pursued this entire process:

“They are the same. She works really hard on the track. She’s really focused on the track. She works really hard in the classroom and is focused there. After I was first made aware of her desire to be a lawyer, she’s kept me informed throughout the entire process. She’s been really sincere about it."

On the support that Bianca has received throughout:

“I’ve never seen a more perfect family. Her support system is absolutely incredible from parents, sisters, and the entire family. Having her pursue her career, it feels like I’m becoming part of her family and her support system. The same support exists with her in her family in her track and field endeavors. To me, it’s an honor to have her part of the team.”

 

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