When watching the Miramar College women’s soccer team play, keep your eye on number 25, Brandi Mitchell.
Brandi’s soccer skills separate her, as does her age -- 45. But the number doesn't affect the high praise from her teammates.
“She's so good, she is honestly one of the best players I have met and I’ve had the privilege to play with," said Miramar midfielder Daisy Avila.
Most college soccer players are 18, 19, 20 years old, but Brandi is more than twice as old as the players she's competing against.
Avila is amazed every time she practices or plays a game with Brandi, saying she "plays like she's 18. She's down to get dirty and that's what I love about her."
Her 27 years younger teammate, Emily Hernandez, says this just proves that “age is nothing but a number.”
Brandi is just soaking all this in.
"Every single day I think this is so unbelievable and amazing," Brandi said. "It's really that 'Never too old, Never too late' concept."
So how did a 45-year-old start playing with a community college soccer team?
A lifelong soccer player and an age advocate, Brandi really started getting into soccer again during the pandemic. She knows Miramar coach Stephanie Beall and, just for fun, began working out with the team.
It turns out, Brandi still had college eligibility and there was an open spot on the team. So, she signed up for classes at Miramar College and a day before the first official practice, Brandi had a decision to make.
"I have to do this. I have to!" Brandi said. "I talk all the time about being an age advocate and standing up for what it means to age actively and I have to be able to prove to myself that I am not going to back off of this opportunity."
And now a few weeks into the season, she's doing it.
"It is amazing. I am having so much fun," she said.
Not only is she having fun, she's excelling on the field, which puts aside all those soccer mom jokes and reinforces the fact that she's a true member of the Miramar team and not the so-called "team mom."
"It was really important to me to not frame myself as like 'I am a mom out here,'" Brandi emphasized.
While she's not seen by her teammates as a mom, Brandi is an actual mom. Maverick Mitchell is Brandi's son and he's a pretty good athlete, too.
So good in fact, that's he plays water polo at -- you guessed it -- Miramar College.
How cool is that? Mom on the soccer team, son on the water polo team.
Brandi calls it "extraordinary."
Maverick says "it's insane."
Maverick plays it low-key but you can tell this means a lot to him.
"I'm definitely super proud of her. Like, I would have never seen her doing this," Maverick said. "I'll definitely remember this for a long time."
Not only do they see each other on campus, but they also have an online class together -- a Microsoft Excel accounting class.
And now, the parent-child homework dynamic has turned. Maverick said he even got to tell his mom to do her homework, for once.
"Yeah, it felt good. That was good. It's about time," Maverick said.
Brandi is cherishing this special time in her life, while also acknowledging it's a unique parenting opportunity to show her son that parents aren't perfect.
"There are so many times as parents that kids need to see us as mentors and examples and that we do everything right," Brandi said. "But for him to see that I make mistakes too, have bad training days, forget to my homework, there's something about that, that is very connecting for us."