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Bruton Football Coach Reggie Jones described the Bruton football program as a family.
On Friday, that family learned it lost one of its own as Offensive and Defensive Line Coach Kevin Brooks, 46, died unexpectedly.
Jones learned the news of Brooks’ death around 11 a.m. Friday while teaching a class. The Bruton football team was assembled nearly two hours later and was told the news.
As school counselors consoled Bruton’s players, Jones and his coaches had to decide whether to go forward with Bruton’s scheduled football game against Smithfield later that evening.
Jones, who was a lifelong friend of Brooks as the two grew up together in Williamsburg, said there was no debating whether to play the game. The answer was clear.
“There was never a thought we wouldn’t play,” he said. “Coach Brooks would never want that. He wouldn’t want anything to stop on his account.”
Before the Panthers could move forward and prepare for their game, the entire team had to stop and remember their fallen coach, mentor and friend.
A Lafayette High alumnus, Brooks was well-known around Williamsburg for his football and track and field coaching skills.
Brooks coached at Lafayette, Jamestown and Walsingham Academy before settling down at Bruton, where he had coached since 2008.
Described by Jones as a caring individual, Brooks touched lives across the Historic Triangle with his kindness and professionalism as a coach. The relationships he built with his players, Jones said, turned into more of a friendship the more one came to know him.
“Anyone who knew Coach Brooks knew he was a loyal friend,” Jones said. “He was a caring individual, a caring teacher, a great mentor and friend. He is truly a person that had other people’s interests before his own.”
That’s why, with heavy hearts, the Bruton football players strapped on their helmets and played against Smithfield later that evening.
Bruton came out and put up a good fight against the larger Smithfield team, trailing at the half 20-13 before eventually watching the Packers pull away in the second half.
And even though the Panthers did not defeat Smithfield, Jones said his team won the most important game of all — remembering Brooks.
“We went out there and represented our brother, our mentor, our friend, our coach in performance that night,” Jones said. “I know he would have been proud of us. We went out there and we played for him. And we will continue to play for him because he will not be forgotten.”