When senior guard Brooke McCarty rises up for a hesitation dribble, she always makes the same face.
She raises her eyebrows to her forehead. Her eyes grow big. She stares like a deer in the headlights right before crouching back down and zooming past her defender.
She made a similar face when her boyfriend of nearly eight years proposed to her.
Kamron Williams, a 22-year-old All-Volunteer Force officer in the Navy, met McCarty in the seventh grade in League City, Texas, and started dating her in high school. After he graduated from Class A school, he paid her a visit in Austin and decided to finally pop the question on Oct. 11.
That morning, McCarty invited Williams to watch her practice. Williams declined so that he could set his plan in place.
“Man, I was so nervous,” Williams said. “That whole day I was practicing in the mirror.”
Williams later showed up to practice unannounced. When the team was finished, head coach Karen Aston called him up to talk to her players. He only needed to speak with one of them.
Williams dropped to his left knee and asked McCarty to marry him.
“I thought he was going to give a speech about hard work and being in the Navy,” McCarty said. “I was just so overwhelmed with excitement. It was just an emotional time.”
McCarty nodded her head, and her teammates swarmed her immediately before Williams could even put the ring on her finger. She eventually escaped her teammates’ clutches and joined her new fiance.
For now, the couple is holding off on wedding preparations. With Williams returning to his naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, and McCarty entering her final season as a Longhorn, the pair decided it would be best to wait until next year.
In the meantime, McCarty will focus on retaining her role as a leader of the team. She uses her previous experiences to determine how she approaches her current teammates. During her first year on campus, she struggled to find an upperclassman to look up to.
“Freshman year was really hard because I didn’t trust anybody older than us,” McCarty said. “I kind of just looked up to the people around me, like my class. I just looked up to them because we were kind of in the trenches together.”
It wasn’t until McCarty’s sophomore season that she opened up and latched onto former Longhorn Celina Rodrigo, a fellow point guard who knew the ins and outs of Aston’s system.
McCarty now makes it a point to set the example for her younger teammates.
“I’ve been in their position that they’re trying to get to,” McCarty said. “(I’m trying to) be someone they can rely on. Being someone who shows that, no matter what, you can’t let Coach see you sweat.”
McCarty hopes she can lead Texas on another deep run in March. But, despite Texas’ No. 2 ranking, she’s trying not to set any expectations too large.
“One personal goal I have this year is just to have fun,” McCarty said. “If you let all the other stuff influence you, it’s not going to be any fun.”
McCarty will play in her final season opener for Texas against Stetson on Sunday. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said the season opener was on Saturday, when the game is on Sunday.