When he saw everything aligning the way it was, things came into focus and James Brooks recognized it was time to step away from coaching.
Brooks recently resigned his post as head coach of the Grove High School boys’ basketball team after five seasons. Work demands of Brooks’ full-time job began to increase, leaving the coach with an increasing sense of less time and energy to give to his team.
He also noted that things felt better after seeing through the last group of players he had mentored from youth levels on.
“I love to coach, so I wanted to make sure I was going to be alright leaving coaching,” Brooks said. “And it was a group of guys I had the following year that was kind of the last of my guys that I’ve had for a long time. So, I felt like I need to stay for them and if not one more.”
Standout son: Of course, one of the biggest reasons for his departure was to free up time to watch his son, former Rockets standout Eli Brooks, who is currently a freshman on the University of Michigan men’s team.
Eli graduated in 2017 as Spring Grove’s all-time leading scorer after posting 2,426 career points, a mark that also ranks second all-time in York-Adams League history.
Most would have considered James Brooks’ moving on coinciding with Eli’s a reasonable move. But Brooks wanted to first confirm his own feelings about leaving and give his son a chance to gain a new level of independence.
“I think it was important for Eli to have his own start to his college career,” Brooks said.
After Eli’s departure, a tough season followed for the Rockets with a 4-17 record and a 1 -13 mark in Division I. During his time with the Rockets, Brooks compiled a 73-55 record and collected a York-Adams League championship in 2016. He also three District 3 tournament appearances with his teams advancing to the PIAA tournament twice.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity to coach,” Brooks said. “Not having any varsity experience before, always working with youth or junior high, it was important that they took a chance for me to be varsity coach. I’ll always remember that and be grateful for that. And getting to mold and shape so many great young athletes. “
More time to watch Eli: Despite having best seat in the house for his son’s stellar career, Brooks admitted he never truly afforded the opportunity to watch him specifically.
“When you’re coaching, I don’t know you see all the good things that are going on; you’re so focused. I never really had that ‘Oh that’s my son that hit that shot,’” Brooks said. “If you start worrying about one, you forget about the whole. So, it was really exciting for what the team was able to do; and what Eli was able to do within the team.”
His inability to fully appreciate what his son was achieving despite being right next to it made Eli’s Senior Night even more special for the proud father. It gave the pair a chance to pause and treasure the moment.
“Being there on Senior Night for Eli’s Senior night and getting to be Dad and a coach on that night was pretty special,” Brooks said. “You look back and you see it now, the things we were able to accomplish were pretty special. In terms of watching him, there were too many other things going on.”
Now that he doesn’t have to worry about overseeing five players, Brooks can now zero in on one.
“I get to see a lot more (of Eli’s play) and focus now that I’m not his coach,” Brooks said.