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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Women’s lacrosse goalkeeper got start throwing touchdowns on football field

(Photo courtesy of Brynna Nixon.)

Growing up in Bonney Lake, Washington, sophomore goalkeeper Brynna Nixon would spend her Sunday afternoons watching Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks with her family.

Nixon said she admired and looked up to Wilson for the fact that he was proving his doubters wrong.

“I did look up to him a lot because he was short and so everyone said he couldn’t play in the NFL,” Nixon said. “He took that in stride and said ‘I’m short and I can’t change that, but I’m still going to be a great player.'”

Nixon has now taken that same mentality now as the starting goalkeeper for the Marquette women’s lacrosse team.

But for Nixon, her athletic career began on the football field in the second grade.

“I asked my mom and dad if I could play football because I saw this flyer for a junior football league,” Nixon said. “They didn’t say no, but it took some convincing for them to let me play because they were scared I was going to get hurt. But, they have been super supportive and were never like ‘You can’t play football because you’re a girl.'”

Brynna Nixon meets Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll. (Photo courtesy of Brynna Nixon)

After starting in the Trojans junior football program in second grade, Nixon eventually made the Fife High School roster, led by head coach Kent Nevin.

“(I met her) when she was in fifth grade, she was playing football for our junior football program,” Nevin said. “She walked right up to me and said ‘Hi, I’m Brynna Nixon and I’m going to play for you when I get to Fife.’ I’ll never forget that.”

Then during her junior year, Nixon made history. 

In a playoff game, Nixon became the first woman to throw a touchdown pass in Washington state history, with a 25-yard pass that landed in the breadbasket of the receiver’s hands.

“I’m still wrapping my head around it even though it happened four years ago,” Nixon said. “Part of me feels like a trailblazer, but at the same time, I also did the same thing that every other guy has done.”

Nixon earned the starting spot her final season, leading the Trojans to a 4-2 record.

“She ran our offense better than any of the other guys, she been in it so long and done it so well, she was so meticulous and she’s such a competitor,” Nevin said. “Her senior year we had a younger quarterback and so it was a competition and she won.”

Despite that success, it wasn’t all positives for the senior signal caller.

“The biggest obstacle I had was I was a girl playing football; Other teams I would play against would take cheap shots at me to try and get me out of the game,” Nixon said. “It was that kind of stuff that made it the hardest because if I was a guy this wouldn’t be happening.”

(Photo courtesy of Brynna Nixon.)

While going through those challenges, Nixon fell back on one aspect she has carried her all this way.

“Once they said I couldn’t do it, I was like yeah, I’m not quitting (and) I’m proving you wrong,” Nixon said.

Sophomore midfielder Lorelai VanGuilder knows what it was like to play a sport with guys as she played hockey at Hill-Murray High School in Maplewood, Minnesota.

“Being a woman in sports is hard enough as it is and playing with guys is tough mentally and physically,” VanGuilder said. “She took it like a boss because she is one, she’s awesome.”

While playing for the Trojans football team in the fall, Nixon would also play lacrosse in the spring starting in fourth grade.

Once she reached high school, Nixon led Fife to three league titles across her four years (2018, 2019, 2021). After finishing as the all-time career save percentage leader, Nixon came to Marquette heading into the 2021-2022 school year.

Assistant coach Jill Rizzo said she has seen that same attitude Nixon had in high school carry over into her college career.

“She lives with integrity, and she does what she says she’s going to do,” Rizzo said. “She’s definitely taken on that ‘I’ll prove you wrong’ type of attitude and make a lot of changes in a positive direction.”

Rizzo said that this behavior has started to spread to the rest of the team.

“You can just feel her energy and it spreads (to) everybody, from our defense all the way down to the attackers,” Rizzo said. “She is just so contagious with her love and her energy.”

After proving everybody wrong up to this point, Nixon said she wants to prove a few more people wrong with the Golden Eagles.

“A lot of teams count us out because we have Denver and UConn in our conference, so they take up a lot of the spotlight in the Big East,” Nixon said. “I think we have a great team this year and we can go really far, so it’s proving people wrong in an aspect of counting us out a lot of the times (and) I like doing that.”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.

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