Support Helps Sophie Brunner Capitalize On USA Opportunity
As a student-athlete at Arizona State University, Sophie Brunner has a lot of demands on her time. Yet, there was no hesitation when an opportunity arose to play for USA Basketball this summer in the 2015 Pan American Games.
“I couldn’t really turn this down,” said Brunner, who was named to the 2015 U.S. Pan American Women’s Basketball Team on May 17 after beginning trials for the team alongside 50 of the United States’ best college basketball players. “It is just a really good opportunity. I’m happy I was invited. I’m happy I made the team. As fun as it would be to go home and see family, I can do that in August. So, I’m just excited to have this opportunity.”
In fact, if she were not in Toronto, Canada, preparing for the USA’s first game on July 16, she might be home in Freeport, Illinois, enjoying time to relax.
“When I go back home in the summer I go boating and tubing and stuff,” Brunner explained. “I just like to hang out with my friends and family.”
Brunner may be missing out on the chance to spend time in her town of about 26,000 people, but she won’t be missing out on the chance to see her family and friends.
“I have a lot of family members coming (to Toronto) and a couple of family friends,” said Brunner. “Apparently there are like 20 or 30 people coming. I’m excited to see them and excited for them to experience this, too.
“I’ve always had support like that. That’s how we were raised back home. All of my friends and I, we all had support like that. We are blessed to have that, and we are all happy for each other when we have success.”
While Brunner’s supporters will enjoy watching her compete in a USA jersey, she and her USA teammates have four more days of practices before they take the court, including scrimmages against Brazil and Canada.
“I think the scrimmages are going to be really important. They are going to test our focus level and how close we are, our chemistry. So, I think it is going to be good for us to see where we are. We had been scrimmaging the (USA women’s) U19 team, a scout team of guys and against ourselves, so we don’t really know where we stand against the competition. I think it will be really good for our team.”
A 2015 All-Pacific 12 Conference selection, Brunner averaged 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while shooting a team-best 54.3 percent from the field. What role she will play for this U.S. team, however, is still evolving.
“I’m just trying to do whatever the team needs, so if that is rebounding, setting good screens, whatever they ask I will be ready to do,” Brunner said. “I’m just happy to be here and excited for the opportunity.”
“It’s a lot of fun. You learn something new every day and you are challenged every day. There are people here who are way better, and they are making me better. I’m looking forward to playing against other teams with them.”
Brunner will get her wish as soon as tonight, when the team takes on Brazil in a friendly – the same team the USA opens play against on July 16.
You can follow Brunner and the U.S. women’s basketball team on Twitter at #USABwpag
USA versus Brazil at 9 p.m. EDT on July 16
USA versus Dominican Republic at 9 p.m. EDT on July 17
USA versus Puerto Rico at 9 p.m. on July 18
Semifinals on July 19
Finals on July 20