Story by Thomas Corhern
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Brooke Mayo spent some of her free time honing a craft.
Not that she had a whole lot of free time as a senior member of the Tennessee Tech women's soccer team, in addition to her academic studies and community service, but every now and then, Mayo would get in front of a microphone and tell jokes as a stand-up comedienne.
But her selection as Tech Athletics' 2011 Woman of the Year is certainly no laughing matter.
Through her hard work, diligence and dedication, Mayo proved herself time and time again as the pinnacle of what it means to be a student-athlete, making her a worthy recipient among an impressive group of candidates -- Lacie Coqueriile (softball), Katherine Lynn (track and field), Ashley Mayhew (track and field), Marie Peddicord (volleyball), Carley Rhyne (golf) and Lindsay Spradlen (golf).
"I'm very honored," Mayo said. "I think it's a great way to end my four years at Tech."
Tech women's soccer coach Daniel Brizard added, "It's hard sometimes to deal with that 17-to-21-year-old age group. She made it pleasant to do. To me, being Woman of the Year, you have to have everything. Brooke does. She had it in the classroom. She had it on the field. She had it in the community. She's got the trifecta."
Sure, comedy is a different kind of hobby, but it's a fun one.
"They host some open mic nights at the Backdoor Playhouse (on Tech's campus)," Mayo said. "Whenever I had a drink with my friends, I start thinking I'm pretty funny. My friends start laughing and tell me, 'You should go to open mic night.' Those had just started when I was a freshman. The girl in charge of it said they hadn't had somebody do stand-up comedy and was open-minded about it and encouraged it. I started to come out and do some routines and it started to become a big deal. It was really cool. I used to pack that place, so that was really fun. And now I've done shows in Nashville and such, but it's more of a hobby. It's just fun. I love to perform. I used to be in the band in high school, so I missed performing."
Her experience doing that probably helped as she played to a very important crowd in the recent history of Tech Athletics on a more serious tone. When Tech opened its state-of-the-art Athletic Performance Center, Mayo, the president of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, was the student-athlete chosen to speak in front of the dignitaries, alums and everyone else in presence.
"That was a tremendous honor," Mayo said. "It was awesome that the administration trusted me to speak for the whole student body. That was awesome. The good thing about Tech and Tech Athletics is that it's like a family. They trust me over there, I trust them. I can call somebody over there any time of the day and I know if I had a problem, they would help me fix it. It's been a really good four years at Tech and I loved every second of it."
Brizard said, "Brooke was very proud. You could hear it in her voice. She was a little nervous too when she gave that speech, but she was very proud because she did help play a vital role by representing the athletes at Tech. That's a great honor to be the voice for a community of people, that being the student-athletes at Tech. She took that in stride and did a great job at it. She really listened to her fellow student-athletes and had their concerns in mind, and look at what happened."