Following stints at USC and Oregon, Isabel Rolley will see out her college career at Illinois after becoming the second Australian to transfer out of Eugene this offseason, following Lara Kirkby’s transfer to Maine earlier this year. Rolley also becomes Illinois’ first Australian player since four-time Academic All-Big Ten nominee Ashleigh Lefevre finished her college career in 2021.
Primarily raised in Las Vegas but having spent part of her childhood in her mother’s homeland of Australia, Rolley was an occasional starter during her time at USC in which her team reached the NCAA Tournament in both 2019 and 2021. Rolley was part of the matchday eleven in 9 of her 25 appearances before making the move north to Eugene to be part of a squad featuring Kirkby as well as another Australian in assistant coach Rachael Doyle. Despite an early injury, a single season at Oregon saw Rolley appear far more regularly, starting in 14 of her 17 appearances, including 11 of the final 12 games of the campaign.
Although Rolley’s abilities as a footballer are clear to see, the defender also featured on the Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll in both 2020 and 2021 during her time at USC. Rolley also led diversity efforts at USC, serving as co-founder and president of the United Black Student-Athlete Association as well as serving as Diversity Officer of the Trojan Athletic Senate.
Now, the Fighting Illini will be the newest beneficiaries of the senior defender’s skillset. Having leaked in excess of 2 goals per game in 2023 to sit in the bottom 50 of the national rankings, adding a veteran presence to the defence will be crucial if Illinois are to make the jump from last season’s 7-7-4 record into the upper echelons, both in the Big Ten and nationally. Head coach Janet Rayfield clearly feels Rolley can be that presence.
“Bel is a no-nonsense defender with Power 5 and NCAA championship experience. An aspiring sports journalist, Bel brings maturity, a feisty competitiveness and leadership skills that will raise the level of the players around her,” Rayfield remarked in an official release. “Her individual defensive efforts and her consistent and effective communication can improve our defensive efficiency immediately.”
Rolley’s first game with Illinois will be at home against Loyola Chicago on August 17 before facing five high-level opponents on the road as the Illini travel to Xavier, Dayton, Louisville, Kentucky, and Missouri. The team rounds off their non-conference slate with a home game against Pepperdine on September 10 before commencing their 10-game conference schedule on the road at Iowa on September 17.