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Soccer’s solace: How Brooke Lampe persevered after her mother’s death

Soccer’s solace: How Brooke Lampe persevered after her mother’s death

Soccer’s solace: How Brooke Lampe persevered after her mother’s death
April 29
15:00 2021

A challenging season due to COVID-19 and Winter Storm Uri was made tougher for senior soccer player Brooke Lampe in February when she lost her mother, Linda Lampe, to cancer.

While coping with her mom’s death, the team captain went on to tie for the team lead in minutes played (933) and finished the season as a First Team All-Conference USA honoree.

“[Soccer] was the only thing that really kept me going, especially after [my mom’s death], because it’s something I know she wanted me to succeed in,” Brooke said. “Also, it gave my family something to [watch] to have some happiness with. My second-oldest brother is a soccer player too, so he was in-season too and both of us knew that she would’ve wanted us to play and be there for our teams.”

Starting in Brooke’s freshman year of high school, Linda suffered from non-small cell lung cancer and had 15 percent of her lung removed, which kept her cancer-free for about four years. However, the cancer cells reappeared during Brooke’s freshman year of college, and shortly after Linda began chemotherapy to treat it.

In December 2020, Linda’s cancer began to spread and caused one of her vertebrae to collapse — leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. She was in the hospital from December to early February and then released home where Brooke cared for her while balancing school, soccer and a job.

A few weeks later, Linda returned to the hospital and lost the ability to talk a few days later due to anemia. Residing in the hospital during the Winter Storm Uri, she died on Feb. 18, 2021, at 58 years old.

“When I got to the hospital […] I actually called [head coach John Hedlund] and told him, ‘I’m having to go say goodbye, can you tell the team for me?’” Brooke said. “That was something I never wanted to do because it’s really hard. I remember meeting my dad at the top of the elevator and he was like, ‘Alright, this is going to be the hardest thing you’re going to have to do, but just know she can still hear you.’”

As she dealt with losing her mom, Brooke competed in an exhibition match against then-No. 9-ranked Texas A&M University on February 20, just two days after Linda’s death. Brooke said she fought back tears before and during the match. Prior to its start, Texas A&M players presented her with gifts and expressed their sympathies.

“It just shows right there what sports are all about,” Brooke said. “It’s not all about just competition and winning, but it’s also about coming together when someone needs you. […] It’s one of those things you don’t think you need but whenever someone does it for you, you’re like, ‘That was needed.’ I really appreciated it.”

Former teammate Logan Bruffett (2017-19), who became close friends with Brooke while the two were roommates, said she was left in awe to see her competing in a match so soon after her mother’s death.

“It didn’t surprise me, but you’re still just in awe to see it happen,” Bruffett said. “To think she was still going to be there, that she knew, of course, she could’ve taken the weekend [off] but she was a captain and had a role to fulfill. She knew the team needed her, especially against an opponent like Texas A&M. That’s Brooke, she’s incredibly selfless. […] I don’t even know how she does it.”

As one of the soccer team’s most dedicated fans, Linda’s loss was felt across the program.

“[Linda] went to all of our games, even traveled and went to games all over the country,” Hedlund said. “She was one of our biggest fans, one of our biggest supporters. To see Brooke go through that and really the team go through that because [Linda] was so connected to UNT soccer, it was obviously hard for all of us and especially Brooke and her family. She’ll always be someone we remember and she’ll always be a part of UNT soccer.”

After becoming close with Brooke and Linda during her time at North Texas, Bruffett saw Linda as a second mom for herself and the entire team.

“She was always hugging, loving and including everyone after every game,” Bruffett said. “Of course she’s over there hanging with Brooke but she made it a point to come up to all the players, give them a hug and give details about the game. She was the whole team’s mom. I knew even if my mom wasn’t going to be there, Linda was going to be there. I was always going to have someone up there yelling for me.”

As one of four seniors on a relatively young soccer team, Hedlund said Lampe’s senior leadership was key throughout the season.

“She’s a leader and she’s really good around the younger players,” Hedlund said. “Helping them understand what we’re about, the commitment level and what it takes to win a championship. When you have a player like her as a role model and somebody that’s willing to talk to the younger players […] that’s always huge. You don’t find many captains like that, just one of those players that will be hard to replace someday.”

After North Texas’ (7-3-1, C-USA 4-1-1) COVID-19-altered season ended on April 13 with a first-round loss in the C-USA tournament, Brooke has decided to return for a fifth season next fall.

“I’m going to take my COVID year, finish out that last semester and hopefully end with a ring,” Brooke said. “That’s really something I wanted this year but God gave me another year so we’ll just focus on that one. COVID is a blessing in disguise in a weird way because it did give me time to go home and I got to spend a lot of time with my mom and my family.”

Featured Image: Senior defender Brooke Lampe kicks the ball towards midfield against Oklahoma State on March 14, 2021. Image by Zachary Thomas

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John Fields

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