Friday, May 11, 2012

Time to Come Out of the Game

My high school football coach, Alton “Tunney” Brooks, will be buried today. In addition to coaching for over 40 years he was an all-star athlete in high school, a star on the baseball and basketball teams at Wake Forest University and was a member of America’s first Pan American baseball team.

At the visitation yesterday there were dozens of men whose lives Coach Brooks had a strong hand in molding.

In addition to my experience playing for him I worked as a lifeguard at a pool he managed each summer.

In the summer of 1972 I saw him dive off a 3-meter board and do something I can’t describe. It looked like some sort of Olympic dive and when he entered the water he hardly made a splash. He was 45-years old.

I remember watching him get out of the pool and thought, “We might have to get older but we don’t have to get old.”

That thought has been a guiding force in my life for the last 40 years. Coaches and teachers can’t ask for a more important impact than that.

Thank you, Coach. Now, it’s time to come out of the game and take a rest.


  1. Coach Brooks set the standards of how coaching/teaching should be. As stated, Coach had a great impact on many of us and it wasn't only on the "ball" fields. He taught us the value of things through his wit, discipline and the words we would later take to heart. Coach may be gone, but he remains with many of us. God Bless Coach Brooks.....see you again soon.

    Mike Parnell

  2. Mike, It was great to see you at the visitation for Coach Brooks in Lumberton. Your blog is spot on about the influence he had on those of us who were fortunate enough to not only have played for Coach but also worked for him at Woodside Pool.