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Jan. 16, 2008

Freshman Brittiny Rhoades enjoyed a successful first season at USC, setting a freshman record for games played (23) and tying the record for games started (22). Rhoades earned All-SEC Freshman team, Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie Team and Soccer Buzz Freshman All-American honors this season at defender. A Wilmington, Del., native, Rhoades met with to talk about her first season for the Garnet and Black.

GamecocksOnline: Coming from Delaware, first off just tell me why South Carolina?

I knew originally when I was doing my college search that I wanted to come to the South where it was warmer. I got a letter from Jamie and Shelley and just kept talking to them. I came on my visit and fell in love.

You were a High School All-American and the Delaware Player of the Year. What did those accolades mean to you when you got them?

You can’t really get awards without having your teammates behind you. I really credit my high school team a lot because without them you really don’t get anything. You work hard for your teammates and it’s nice to get acknowledged for it. I played center-mid.

Take me back through recruiting a little bit. When did you first start getting attention from colleges?

You can’t get recruited until you’re a junior, but when I was a sophomore I played on a club team out of Pennsylvania that was all juniors. We would play at college showcases, so when I was a junior most colleges had already seen me. As soon as I could in my junior year, I was getting letters.

How did USC come into the picture?

They were the first letter I ever received. It just came (without solicitation). This will sound really bad but Clemson was originally where I was looking. My club coach at the time knew the assistant coach. He said that they’re in the ACC and it was in the South, which was the general area where I wanted to go. Then I got the letter from Jamie and Shelley and got on the website immediately looking at the pictures and the team. I knew then and my dad said let’s go take a visit and I liked it.

What other schools did you look at?

I didn’t want to go extremely far away from home so definitely the University of Delaware. I kind of looked at Boston University but realized I don’t really like the snow that much, so I said `no’ to that. I looked at Loyola in Maryland and Florida State.

In high school you were a M/F but came and started from day one at defender. Had you played that position before?

I actually started out as a forward. I was converted to a center back and played there for the FC Pennsylvania Strikers (club team). It was different but it worked out.

Did USC recruit you as a left back (LB) – why did they want you to play LB?

Yes, but they told me that I’d probably be moved to the outside. I thought that sounded good.

What about your game makes you such a good LB?

Jamie said that I’m very good speed wise which helps with my defending because if I do get beat then I’m lucky enough to be fast enough to get back. I don’t know. I just think that for me defending, it’s still confusing so I have a lot to learn but I’m very good at listening to what Jamie says. Blakely Mattern, what she says on the field, I’m very attentive to take in what she says and just try to apply it to my game.

You played club ball for the Penn Strikers with Brooke Jacobs. Did you two decide to go to the same school or was that a purely coincidental thing?

Brooke and I had been best friends since we went to the Strikers, which was our junior year. When colleges started to contact us, everyone talked on our team about who we were looking at, and we both found out that South Carolina was (interested). We both kept looking into it. I actually committed before Brooke, and when we committed both of us were very excited to come down together. We would call each other every day and say, `Oh I’m excited! What are you going to pack!’ and things like that. It made it a lot easier coming in knowing that one of your best friends is coming to the same college as you to be in the same situation as you on the team.

Back to the season, what was it like starting your first collegiate game at UNC and winning?

It was very exciting. Just going in to the atmosphere and how pumped up everyone was to play the defending national champions; we just came out and took it to them basically. It was so exciting. My family was able to be there so that made it even better. Some of my friends and my high school coach from Delaware came down. I got to see everyone after the game and it was like, `Yeah, you just beat UNC!’ It was amazing. You get phone calls afterwards. I was just nervous playing a team that won the national championship. As soon as Sulli (Erin Sullivan) scored I just wanted to stop and dance. As the minutes were counting down, I was like `We’re going to win this game.’


Rhoades (left) and Jacobs (right) celebrate after hooking up for the game winning goal against Arkansas



You went on to start 22 games this season. What were your thoughts as the team went through the best season in program history?

It’s definitely a compliment to our freshman class knowing that we got to help and be a part of something that was record breaking. Ashley Kirk said we had 20 records broken. That’s just amazing to be a part of something like that and to contribute. It felt like every time we turned around we were doing something even better. I can’t wait until next year; I just want to play again.

You scored four assists but had one to Brooke to win the senior day game. Was that assist any more special since it ended up going to your friend for her first collegiate goal?

For me it made it more special. When Brooke and I played together and I heard that she tore her ACL, it broke my heart just as much as it hurt her. Being able to help her get back what she kind of lost in the beginning just made it that much more special to me. To know that what we did as a best friend duo to help our seniors make it through that final senior game was amazing.

Describe your most memorable game

My most memorable game this season – everyone picks (UNC) and I loved the UNC game – but I loved beating Tennessee in the SEC Tournament. I absolutely loved it. I loved every second of it because it wasn’t even that they had chances on goal. I felt like we completely dominated the game. Against UNC I felt like we played very well and they had their shots in the game. They hit the post a couple of times. “T” (Lindsay Thorstenson) played amazing against UNC, but I feel like with Tennessee we had that rivalry. They took us to double overtime earlier in the year and beat us on their own field, but then we came back and pretty much handed it right to them.

You picked up a lot of accolades after this season, including Freshman All-SEC and Top Drawer All-Rookie honors. What were your thoughts after learning you earned that award?

I was happy, but it’s a team thing. Individual awards are definitely nice and you work hard and its good to be acknowledged for it, but I credit all of my success to them because they help me like I help them on the field. Blakely played amazing this year. Laura Armstrong and Lindsay always competing with each other and bringing a whole new level to our goalkeeping aspect helped. Both of them wanted to play so it was great to see that.

Describe your experience at USC so far.

Coming in at first was overwhelming just trying to perform on the field and perform in the classroom, but I think that what we’re provided as student-athletes with study hall and tutors and how amazing Jamie and Shelley are with how they coach and how welcoming the team is, it completely knocked down that aspect for me. I came in and didn’t feel like I was a freshman on the team. I felt like I had been here for four years because everyone got along with everyone. I went home for three days over Thanksgiving and couldn’t wait to come back. I absolutely love it here and I’m so happy with my decision.

Undecided major – has a specific major crossed your mind yet?

I’m in the business program. I don’t know what I want to do actually. I’m still deciding. I don’t want to sit behind a desk, I want to go out and talk to people and get stuff done. I want to do something fun that I like, I just don’t know what that is yet.

Any nicknames?

None. I don’t have an exciting name to try to make a nickname. Dani Monteiro calls me “Bri”.

Any secrets you would like to share?

My favorite food is Mac and Cheese and I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Well not breakfast but lunch and dinner. Actually Brooke and I are pretty much the same person because we eat Mac and Cheese everywhere we go. I don’t think that counts as a secret. I don’t really have secrets. I can’t really keep secrets; I think that’s the problem.

Anything else?

I love USC a lot! Hi mom and dad!