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“I need her closer to the goal”: The position change that changed Mykayla Brown’s Indiana career

Mykayla Brown has scored five goals in the last five matches heading into the Northwestern match. (Josh Eastern/HN)

When Amy Berbary accepted the head-coaching job at Indiana in 2013, little did she know that one of her 2014 incoming recruits was an outside back who would later be a prolific goal scorer.

That player was senior forward Mykayla Brown. She’s scored 18 goals in her career and if not for a position change early in her career, it could have been a very different tenure in Bloomington.

When IU was recruiting Brown, it was prior to Berbary being hired. Once she got to IU, she kept up on the recruiting visits. Brown, at that time, was a verbal commit and played outside back. Berbary said liked her athleticism and speed along with her ability to get forward.

Because of those traits, Berbary and her coaching staff helped her with the position change to forward. Brown said she wanted to try something farther up the pitch and Berbary said she saw something in Brown. She knew Brown needed to be closer to the goal. Thus came a move to forward.

“I recruit outside backs that like to get forward,” Berbary said. “But there was something about her that I said ‘I need her closer to the goal’ and she really progressed. She was not the most technical player when she got here, but she did a wonderful job of doing things on her own, continuing to get better.”

The move to forward has been seamless for Brown. The Indianapolis native has played in 72 career games and has been a staple in IU’s lineup under Berbary. Because of that, she has been able to climb the record book at Indiana.

“I can’t even imagine going back to defense now,” Brown said.

Brown’s 18 goals are tied for seventh most in program history. Her five goals in conference play are tied for second-most in program history in a single season. She’s also scored 11 career times in Big Ten play, which is tied for second all-time at Indiana. Currently, Brown has scored five goals in the last five games heading into Thursday’s match at Northwestern.

While the feat is impressive individually, Brown is one to sing the praises of her teammates for her current form.

“A lot of those plays I wouldn’t be able to do without (my teammates),” Brown said. “Especially this last game, I have to thank Abby (Allen) and Maya (Piper) for making those plays first and then allowing me to finish.”

Brown has had a distinct impact on the program during her five seasons. 2015 was missed due to an injury, but that enabled her to redshirt. While last year may have been a down year for her with only three goals, she has responded with six so far in 2018. Three years ago, coming off that injury, she scored a career high eight goals.

But, as Berbary mentioned, she’s an extremely hard worker and never gives up, which has enabled her to stay in the lineup. She may not be the most vocal person on the team, but Brown said she is embracing that role of being a senior leader.

“It’s something different for me because I’m kind of quiet,” Brown said. “It’s helped me be a vocal leader because I’m a person who’s quiet, does my job and tries to lead nonverbally, just by how I play in the game and practice. Having to be vocal has helped me.”

Berbary said that when Brown speaks, it carries a lot of weight and people listen. But because Brown has known Berbary throughout her tenure at IU so far, their relationship is special. Berbary has come to rely on Brown as a very integral part of her system.

Their relationship has not only grown on the field, but off of it as well. While they communicate as a player and coach, that relationship goes deeper. With Brown’s IU career winding down into its final few matches, Berbary pointed at one thing that stuck out.

“Her and I have this non-verbal look – we read each other’s minds a bit,” Berbary said. “She always catches me saying my one liners. We have this incredible sense of each other and eye contact that I think I’m really going to miss. I can just look at her and she knows ‘okay, I need to go take care of something’ and she can do the same with me.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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