Michael Lewis

Amber Brooks pays it forward with soccer tournament

by Michael Lewis November 19, 2012 in Women’s Soccer


At an age where most soccer players are more concerned about playing in tournaments, Amber Brooks was organizing one as a senior at Pennington High School.

In 2009, Brooks and teammate Heidi Sabatura helped found “Score for a Cure” tournament in New Hope, Pa. It is a 3 v 3 tourney for Under-9 to U-13 girls in honor of Charlotte Moran. Moran, a long-time beloved and respected Olympic Development Program administrator who impacted many lives, including Brooks, passed away from pancreatic cancer weeks prior to the event.

“She meant a lot to me,” Brooks said. “She really helped me grow up. Not just for soccer. She helped me become what I hopefully think is a nice, young lady.

“I’ve always said in life my great accomplishment would be to aspire and help someone in the way Charlotte helped me. I would feel I lived a fulfilled life if someone could say that about me.”

Given her community commitment and all-around attributes, the University of North Carolina senior was named among 10 women’s finalists for the Senior CLASS Award. The award is given to the college senior soccer player who demonstrates excellence in four areas—community, classroom, character and competition.

“Obviously, I’m honored,” Brooks said. “It’s a great achievement to be named a finalist. I know a lot of the other girls who are finalists as well. It’s nice to be recognized for some of my achievements off the field as well as on the field.”

Since 2009, “Score for the Cure” has raised more than $25,000 for the Lustgargen Foundation, which focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of pancreatic cancer.

“We sold purple bracelets to Region I and the state coaches and the players who wanted to help support our cause but could not be there,” Brooks said. “It was a great way to honor her. I was shocked at how much goes into organizing a little 3 v 3 tournament. It was a good experience all in all.”

So good that the tournament is held every June and organized by a current Pennington High School player.

“I am really excited that the seniors at my high school have continued the tradition of ‘Score for the Cure,’ ” Brooks said. “I’m hoping that it’s something that will continue down the line.”

Brooks continued her community involvement while at North Carolina. Along with her Tar Heel teammates, Brooks participated in Project Heel, which raise money and awareness in the battle against cancer. Her Small Group Communication class worked with Carolina Dreams, an organization that pairs Carolina student-athletes with patients from the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.

It should not be surprising that Brooks is well-rounded person. She captains the Tar Heels, perennially one of the best Division I women’s teams. She also has a 3.83 GPA as a communications major, despite missing classes due to Under-20 and U-23 National Team commitments.

“My parents did a great job of raising me and making it known that school came before athletics,” Brooks said. “My high school, Pennington, did a great job of preparing me for the juggling act of college and time management. Because I was involved with the National Teams at a young age, I got used to missing a week or two from class.”

Brooks also plans to leave school early so she can pursue a professional soccer career in Europe this winter. There is no American women’s pro league after Women’s Professional Soccer shut down earlier this year. Brooks said she will take three online courses to finish her degree.

“There has been talk of [the league] coming back even before the spring,” she said. “I have gone into it with the mindset that I will be going overseas. I have traveled a lot in Europe. I am really interested in the prospect of playing in the German Bundesliga, Sweden or France. . . . I’m actually really excited about that. I enjoy traveling. I think I will like living in Europe and want to experience that when I am still young.

“I would love to play professional soccer back here in the U.S. It would be a lot more convenient for my family and friends to see me play. But I’m not at all deterred playing professionally just because I want to in the U.S.”

In the possibility of playing in Germany, Brooks is taking German 101 this semester.

Given her leadership abilities, Brooks has captained many teams along the way, including the high school, college, the U-17 and U-23 levels.

“I usually started out younger and if I do well I stick with the team . . . and become one of the more experienced players, I have landed the captaincy,” she said. “Once I get comfortable with the coach and the players, a kind of a natural leadership takes place. I’m more of a vocal person. I have no problem giving direction on the field. So I think it’s my natural tendencies of being a leader arise. Luckily, my teammates and coaches have seen leadership qualities in me.”