Last year at this time Brooklyne Mason was in the midst of quite a memorable semester at Wright State.
The Raiders senior soccer player – and team captain – from Middletown High School had taken a medical redshirt year, but still showed up for practice every day and went to games at home and on the road so she could help her teammates by doing manager’s duties.
She also took a full load of courses — 18 credit hours — and finished with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
Oh, and one more thing:
She gave birth to a 7-pound, 4-ounce son on Nov. 29 that she and boyfriend Trevor Swaney – a former All-Horizon League second-team pitcher for the Raiders – named Greyson.
“At first it sounded a little weird to say it,” Brooklyne admitted. “I was a soccer player. I was a student. … And now I was a mom.”
But that, as they say, was easier said, than done.
During this past spring semester — with Greyson just a few months old — she worked an internship as a WSU strength and conditioning assistant at the Setzer Pavilion.
Now living in Miamisburg with her boyfriend and son, she had to be at work at 5:30 a.m., often after she’d been up much of the night with Greyson.
She carried a 15-hour class load, practiced and lifted weights with the soccer team and ended the term by graduating with a Sports Science degree and a 3.76 GPA.
This fall term, as a Business Administration grad student, she’s toned her body, regained her wind — “She’s in better shape now than before she had the baby,” said Trevor — and is back playing soccer for the resurgent Raiders, who had a rough non-conference schedule, but have emerged as one of the best teams in the Horizon League.
For Brooklyne, her soccer career — which began in Middletown’s youth program, advanced to the Ohio Galaxies club team and saw her become one of the best soccer players in Middies’ history – is now winding down. The Raiders have one final home game next Friday against Detroit Mercy and the Horizon League Tournament starts three days later.
After that it’s settling into her role as a mother and beginning her career, possibly with a fellowship at a local health network.
All this is a far cry from that spring day in 2017 when she listened to Trevor’s urging and begrudgingly took a pregnancy test.
“I had had morning sickness a couple of days in a row, but I thought I was just sick,” she said. “I had no clue I was pregnant, but Trevor kept pushing me to get the test and finally I did, just to shut him up.
“I went into the bathroom, took it and just went numb. I laid the test on the counter, walked into the bedroom where he was and said, ‘Just go in there.’
“He did and when he came back, we were both silent and just hugged. We were in shock. It didn’t seem real.
“Weird as this sounds, the first thing that crossed my mind was soccer. ‘What was I going to do?’ I didn’t know if I even wanted to go through with it. I didn’t know if I was ready for any of this.”
She said she first went to see the team’s athletic trainer at the time:
“I told her I’d taken two pregnancy tests and thought I was pregnant and didn’t know what to do. I was crying. My boyfriend was crying. She gave me some information and set me up with an appointment at a women’s clinic in Huber Heights. They talked to me about all my options, gave me an ultra sound and that’s when it all changed.
“I saw the baby’s heartbeat on the screen and my mind changed. The entire time Trevor had said we’re going to raise this baby and now I agreed: ‘That’s my baby and I’m keeping it for sure.’”
Next came the tasks of telling their parents. Trevor’s live in Wheaton, Illinois and he waited to do it face to face when they came for the baseball team’s Senior Night.
Brooklyne’s folks – Dennis has worked 30 years at AK Steel and is a Middletown Christian football coach, Heather is a home health care nurse – live in Middletown.
“One of the offices I work at is near Wright State so she came to see me on my lunch hour,” Heather remembered. “I figured she was coming because she needed money, or food, but then she told me.”
Heather said she figured her daughter broke the news to at her work because her reaction might be more constrained around her coworkers.
“I was upset,” Heather said. “It’s not that I wouldn’t love my grandchild, but I just knew it was going to be harder for Brooklyne now.
“As a parent you always want it to be better for your kids. She was getting a good education and I just wanted her to mature more, to get a good job, buy a house, have a family. But the order of things wasn’t right now.
“Kids can make it a lot tougher on themselves.”
Brooklyne said she then told her dad:
“I’ll never forget it. I was sitting on the couch. Trevor was there with me. Dad was in a chair and I just said, ‘I’m pregnant.’
“He just said, ‘Are you saying you’re having a baby?’
“I said, ‘Yes,’ and then it was this awkward silence in the living room for about an hour. My dad was just looking out the window.
“He told my grandma the next day he was emotional. He said he thought everything would change and he’d never see me play soccer again.”
Initially, she said she worried about the reaction of her WSU coach, Pat Ferguson, who also coached her club team:
“He can be hard to read. Sometimes he’s stern, but we’ve also known each other a long time. I was nervous to tell him. I had just been elected the team captain and I felt like I let people down.
“I told him I’d heard the baby’s heartbeat and the first thing he said was, ‘How’d that make you feel? How cool was that?’
“I was like, ‘Yeah, it was awesome.’
“And he said, ‘We still want you to be a part of the team. We can talk later about how much you want to be involved, but you’re part of us.’ He was great. He was really understanding.”
Her teammates were, too, when she gathered them in the dressing room and, in an emotional session for many, told them what was happening.
“Everybody at Wright State has been great to me,” she said. “When some of the administrators see me, they ask about Greyson. People really care. It’s made me realize more and more, I ended up at the right school.”
‘Things are the way they should be’
Although Trevor is a couple of years older than Brooklyne – he’s 24 now and she’s 22 – they were both sports science majors and ended up in a class together, although they never spoke the entire semester.
“Athletes know other athletes,” she said. “I knew he was a baseball player, but he always sat in the back of class. He’d have his hood up and he never said anything. He was really shy. I sat up front and always had my hand up.”
The following semester they shared another class and through a friend of a friend – “Real middle school stuff,” Brooklyne laughed – she said she found out he “apparently had had a crush on me since the fall.”
As Trevor explained it: “I’m not really an outgoing person and I’m not really good with the ladies. But I’m a religious person and I was just prayin’ I’d meet someone.
“Then one day she was giving a presentation in class and it just hit me. It was like a God-thing. God was telling me I should be with her.”
Brooklyne was active in the Christian-based sports ministry, Athletes in Action, and as a sophomore had gone on a mission trip with the group to Ethiopia.
At a weekly devotion session on campus, she said Trevor suddenly showed up, but again said nothing.
“I did see he had a bible with him and it was worn down,” she said with a smile.
After months of hesitation, Trevor finally showed that heavenly backbone and got the courage to speak to her after class. He walked her to her car, asked for her phone number and soon asked her out.
He borrowed a car for their first date and they went to the Scene75 Entertainment Center in Dayton. It was a Monday night and it was closed.
“He felt so awkward,” she laughed. “We ended up walking around the mall and I began to see what a good guy he was. He’s just so caring and he made me laugh.”
As he got to know Booklyne’s story. Trevor found out she originally had committed to Campbell University, a small Christian school in Buies Creek, N.C. She was promised a partial scholarship – she’d get about $21,000 a year she said – but the coach was fired before she got there.
After hearing little from the school for a couple of months, she said she decided not to go to Campbell and contemplated giving up soccer altogether.
She emailed the school and said she wasn’t coming. She never told her parents and said her dad only found out by chance when she was playing at the ESPN Tournament at Disney World in Orlando and he happened to run into the Campbell assistant coach:
“She told my dad, ‘We’re really sad that Brooklyne’s not coming anymore.’
“And my dad was like, ‘What do you mean?’
“She told him what happened, but I was on the field and had no idea about their conversation.
“I remember my dad didn’t talk to me the whole ride from Orlando to Middletown. I could tell he was angry, but I didn’t find out why until we got home. Then I felt the wrath. He just said, ‘Why? Why would do that? And not tell us?’”
Not only had she backed out of a four-year deal worth at least $84,000, but now she had no other Division I offers, it was January of her senior year and most schools had their recruits lined up.
Finally, she said she reached out to Ferguson:
“I told him I’d made a mistake and wanted to play now.”
She said he met with her and her parents and said he’d look for a Division I school for her. He also offered to take her onto the Raiders’ team although he couldn’t promise any money or playing time.
She took his offer, was offered a partial scholarship as a freshman and has gone on to have a solid career, winning All-Ohio Academic honors as a sophomore and being voted team captain as a senior.
“If I’d gone to Campbell, what would my life look like now?” she asked. “At Wright State, I got a good education, met the best friends I have and met my boyfriend, who’s the love of my life.
“Things are the way they should be.”
‘A group effort’
That copacetic feeling though relies heavily on family connections now.
This past week was a perfect example. The Raiders played their final two road games of the regular season, Wednesday at Youngstown State and Saturday at Cleveland State.
“The baby spent the night with me and our other daughter,” Heather said Thursday. “When I had to go to work, she (daughter Madelyne, who goes to Miami University) took care of him ‘til she had to go to her college Then she took the baby to my mom.
“It’s a group effort and that’s what you do. We’re family.
“And Greyson is precious. He’s the happiest baby you’ll find. He’s got the sweetest disposition. He’s just very loved.”
Brooklyne said her dad often carries Greyson at Raiders’ home games.
And Trevor – who’s working at Enterprise truck sales – has turned out to be a good dad, Brooklyne said.
“Greyson’s kind of ahead of the curve already,” Trevor said. “He was picking up his head a week after his birth and was walking at 10 months. He got a few teeth and it’s kind of cute to see him smile.
“There’s so many things I like about him, but the thing I enjoy most is rocking him to sleep and how he kind of rests on me as I’m holding him close, letting him know I’m here for him and I love him.”
Trevor said Brooklyne is doing “an amazing job” as a mom and that’s echoed by her mother, too.
“Truthfully, I’m kind of surprised, only because she’s been so driven in other areas,” Heather said. “I wondered what a baby was going to do to all that – how she’d handle it – but her maternal instincts kicked in and she has been excellent.”
As for advice she’d give someone else who ends up in her situation, Brooklyne thought a moment, then said:
“I’d say, ‘Don’t freak out. Things will take care of themselves. And if you chose to raise your child, I can tell you this: The love you’ll end up having for your child will overcome everything else from before. It’s the best feeling ever.”
As she said in the beginning, she’s a soccer player, a student… and now a mom.
And for her that’s no longer a “weird” thing to say.