Aspiring Screenwriter Balances Basketball and Academics

© Western New Mexico University

Brooke Rodgers started her college career in San Francisco, California, but when WNMU Head Women’s Basketball Coach Josh Pace reached out to her, she was ready to make a change. She was anxious to leave the big city, to be closer to her family in Phoenix and to find a university that would allow her to better balance her academic life with the demands of playing collegiate basketball. “I knew Coach Pace would get me to where I wanted to be as a player,” she said.

The one wrinkle in her plan was not about basketball but about academics and career preparation. “I want to become a screenwriter after I graduate,” said Rodgers. At her previous university, her major was Writing for Film and TV, a program not offered at WNMU. Luckily, she was able to design her own degree program through the WNMU Interdisciplinary Studies program with concentrations in English and Psychology that will allow her to continue developing as a screenwriter.

“I was always told that I was a good writer,” said Rodgers about her concentration in English, “but I didn’t really like [academic] writing. Once I found creative writing, though, I really liked it.”

Rodgers said that in terms of film genre, she is most attracted to drama. “I like movies about core things, real-life experiences that people go through,” she said, adding that creative writing professors “always tell you to write what you know.” Her current screenplay project is loosely based on her own experiences as a student athlete.

Rodger’s psychology concentration is likely to help her be a better screenwriter, as well, but her interest in the subject stems in part from her own experiences as a college athlete. “When I first got to playing college basketball,” she said, “it was a lot different from what I expected, and I was going through things that I had never experienced while playing basketball . . . For me basketball is the one thing that can help me when I am going through things, but when I was at odds with that, [I wondered] Who am I? or What am I without basketball? Being in college has brought that question into my life.”

Transferring to WNMU allowed her to find more balance in her life. “Now that I am at WNMU, I am in a better place [mentally],” she said, “I have been able to make the adjustments that I need to make in order to still have fun playing the game while still doing what I need to do and being the person I need to be.”

She has learned a number of ways to improve her own well-being, whether through yoga, meditation, or vision boards. After graduating, Rodgers hopes to use what she has learned to advocate for athletes’ mental health.

She also feels that taking online classes has lessened the stress in her life.  It “helps me to manage [my time],” she said, “You move at your own pace. I can see when the assignments are due, and then I can go ahead and get things done if I know I am going to have a long day with basketball.”

“A big part of it is discipline. It’s not easy” to balance academics and athletics said Rodgers.

As a basketball player, Rodgers feels she has grown during her time on campus. “I think I have gotten better as a player in the year and almost a half that I have been here,” she said, “That’s every player’s goal—to get better as a player personally.”

She also has seen significant improvement in her team more broadly. “Last year, we did a lot better than they had in previous years,” she said, “which is really good for the program and good for the school. And I think that made us want more going into this year. . . I think it should be an exciting year.”

Brooke Rodgers will be a featured cast member on the hit Amazon Prime TV series “The College Tour.”



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