Longtime GCHS coach moving to Westbrook

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By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

After spending almost his entire life as a student-athlete, teacher and coach in the Gadsden school system, Jeremy Brooks is headed across I-759 to Rainbow City.
The longtime Gadsden City High School girls basketball coach recently accepted the same position at Westbrook Christian.
Brooks, who has been the GCHS girls basketball coach for the past 17 years since the school’s inception in 2006, stressed that it was a matter of a good situation presenting itself at the right time rather than actively looking for another position. After being contacted by Westbrook athletic director and head football coach Steve Smith earlier this month, the two discussed the possibility of Brooks setting up shop at 100 Westminster Drive.
“It just kept moving forward, and as it moved further along, it just felt like a very good fit,” said Brooks. “I’ve spent my whole career in the Gadsden school system, and I’m very happy here. I wouldn’t have left Gadsden City to go somewhere that wasn’t a good fit for me and my family.”

Brooks said his daughter Jordan, who is in the sixth grade, will join he and his wife Brandy at Westbrook.
“After so many years, sometimes coaches need a sort of reboot, and I pretty much have my retirement in for the state,” said Brooks. It’s definitely an intriguing and a very exciting opportunity Westbrook is offering.”

Brooks’ first teaching job was at General Forrest (now Emma Samson) Middle, where he coached the school’s boys basketball team. The next year he moved to Emma Sansom High School, where he coached the varsity girls for seven years until Emma Sansom, Gadsden and Litchfield high schools consolidated into the Gadsden City.
Brooks noted that he will be a full-time employee at Westbrook with his coaching and teaching duties.
“I’ll be putting in the same number of hours at Westbrook that I do [at Gadsden City],” he said.
“There seems to be a buzz going on over there with all the new coaching hires and the new facilities, and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Smith agreed with Brooks that the timing was right.
“We’ve watched Coach Brooks’ teams from afar for a while, and we were impressed with how well-coached they were and how competitive they played. With the prospects of him being retirement age, we had the opportunity to talk with him about coming over to the private ranks, which is a story that I can speak of myself. Once we got the ball rolling, there was a lot of mutual interest. I’m very thankful that our principal Rachel Neal was open to the idea of bring in a coach of that caliber.”
Smith pointed to Brooks’ consistency year in and year out at Gadsden City as a sign of an above-average coach.
“That’s been lost sometimes in the coaching ranks, where you see coaches looking for instant success, where they may have one good year and then fall off. That’s not been Coach Brooks’ style, and a lot of that’s got to do with his investment in the younger kids from middle school though high school. I’m very impressed with what he’s built at Gadsden City.”
Brooks brings an impeccable resume to Westbrook. In 24 years as a head basketball coach, he sports a 463-245 career record with 11 area titles, 13 Northeast Regional Tournament appearances, six berths in the Elite Eight and a state runner-up finish in the 2006-07 season. Brooks had 25 of his players sign college scholarships. He is a three-time Coach of the Year for the All-Messenger basketball team and was a finalist several times for AHSAA Coach of the Year honors.
“It’s sort of a bittersweet opportunity, because I very much appreciate what I have at Gadsden City,” said Brooks. “At the same time, I want to show everyone at Westbrook of how excited and ready to go I am. It’s been a blessing, and I feel that [Westbrook] is where the Lord wants us to be.”

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