The Beauty of Brittany

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ORLANDO, Fla. ( – As she sat in the high-top chair, Brittany Solis confessed her deepest, darkest secret.

"I used to do beauty pageants when I was really, really, really little," Solis said, with a small smile. "My mom had me in all of them from when I was a baby until I was like eight. I don't even know how many of my teammates know that."

Fate stepped in and the rising senior traded in her tiaras and dresses for cleats and a glove. Softball ran in the Solis family. Her parents met while playing in a softball league, and she took in her first game when she was just a few weeks old.

Following in her mom's footsteps, Solis started her young softball career as a pitcher, but quickly made the move to shortstop where she fell in love with the position.
After taking a brief break to focus on soccer, she fell back in to softball and thrived. The West Hills, Calif., native knew once she stepped on campus during a recruiting trip to UCF that she would be making the cross-country move.

"I went back and told my mom, who wasn't very happy because she wanted me to stay in California, but I just loved it here," Solis said. "When I came on my official visit, I brought my grandma and my mom and they just knew instantly why I loved it here. They could see me here."

Solis arrived on campus in the fall of 2013 and earned the starting spot for the Knights. Three years and 180 games later, Solis, dubbed "Sully" by her teammates, has yet to miss a start for the Black and Gold. She's earned team captain status, and is often looked to for guidance.

"Coming in as a freshman, I was the loud one," she said. "But, playing shortstop, you have to be. It's really difficult to play there and be quiet. You kind of have to just take that leadership role by being there."

Solis wanted to extend that leadership role off the field. She began taking advantage of community service opportunities and in August 2015, she ventured off on a service-learning trip with Knights Without Borders in Costa Rica.

"It was the hardest experience ever," Solis said of building a multi-purpose court for local kids. "It was mentally draining; I'm pretty sure my mind is still (in Costa Rica). Physically, it was the hardest work I've ever done in my entire life. But it was 100 and a million percent worth it."

She left on Aug. 7 for her second go-round, building another court on the Knights Without Borders trip to Panama.

Solis expanded her reach during her junior year, serving as a sub-committee chair for the UCF Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Director of Student-Athlete Welfare and Development Ben Rodriguez saw Solis continue to grow her leadership skills.

"She's that go-to person," Rodriguez said. "She's an influencer. Not only do all of her teammates look up to her, but other student-athletes do as well. Brittany has a professional demeanor. She likes to have fun, but when something needs to be done, she can flip that switch and get it accomplished."

With a year of SAAC experience under her belt, Solis set her sights a little higher: the presidency. After a solid campaign, it all came down to one meeting on April 26, 2016.

As the softball team loaded the bus following a midweek game in Tallahassee, Solis patiently waited as her phone powered up. The final SAAC meeting had taken place during the game; the one in which everyone would vote for the 2016-17 Executive Board.

"I was waiting, waiting, just watching my phone when I got the text that said, 'you're President!'" Solis said. "Kirsten (Foster) was sitting next to me, and I nudged her and whispered, 'Kirsten, Kirsten, I got it!' Then she screamed it and the whole bus celebrated. It was a super cool feeling."

Solis officially begins her reign as SAAC President when classes begin on Aug. 22, and has a list of goals to accomplish during her tenure. All eyes will be on her as she navigates incorporating more events for student-athletes on campus, but for a former beauty queen, that's nothing new.