Boys Club honoring Brooks for his decades of service
by Emily Adams
SYLACAUGA — He has been an athlete, coach, teacher, leader and many other roles in his life, and now Harold Brooks is adding another title to his repertoire — retired.

The former director of 40 years and current special projects coordinator at the Boys Club of Sylacauga is wrapping up decades of service with a retirement celebration and building dedication May 19. The reception will be from 1-3 p.m. at the Boys Club on West Pine Street, where citizens are invited to visit Brooks and tour the facility that has been dedicated in his name. Refreshments will be served.

Brooks, who was also a teacher and coach at B.B. Comer High School for five years, made a career serving youth in the area. Known as “Coach Brooks,” he has worked with the Boys Club for more than 50 years and says his career as a public servant has been, and still is, fulfilling.

“All I’ve ever done is work with youth,” Brooks said. “I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to work with all the kids in our community. That’s always been my dream, my calling. And my family has always supported me in that, even though they sacrificed a lot for me to do that.”

Watching young people become successful adults is the greatest satisfaction his work has provided, he said.

“We’ve had kids come through who are now policemen, mayor, some lawyers, several around town are in business, and that’s always exciting to see,” Brooks said. “My main thing is to see our kids become the best they can be and not let whatever their situation is hold them down. We’ve done pretty well with that in the last 40 years. We’re not always successful, but we win more than we lose, and we’ve had the opportunity to make a difference — and that’s all we want.”

The Sylacauga native has been recognized for his service over the years. He was presented the prestigious “Man and Youth” award from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America in 2009, and other honors include the Distinguished Citizen award from the Greater Alabama Council Boy Scouts of America, the Nanellen Lang Citizen of the Year award from the Sylacauga Chamber of Commerce in 2006, the Governor’s Youth Leadership award, inductee of the Alabama Softball Hall of Fame and JSU Baseball’s 100 Greatest Athletes. In addition, Brooks has been recognized as an outstanding youth leader by the Central Alabama Boys and Girls Club, received a resolution from the city for service to youth, is a member of the “First Tee” children’s program board of directors, carried the Olympic torch in the 1996 Atlanta games, was awarded 1974 Jaycees Man of the Year and played minor league baseball with the Pittsburg Pirates for two years.

His personal accomplishments include a nearly 50-year marriage to Becky Brooks, a retired teacher, and his four children — Tracey Allen, Wendy Arnold, Jay Brooks and Jody Brooks — who all hold community service positions. He has eight grandchildren and is also a member and ordained deacon at Mignon Baptist Church.

Naming the Boys Club after Brooks was a decision made by its Board of Directors. His son and current Boys Club director Jody Brooks said he is privileged to carry on his father’s legacy.

“I have learned a lot from my dad over the years,” he said. “The biggest thing he has taught me is to balance discipline with praise. We do a lot of discipline with guys here, but you also have to realize when to pat them on the back. And he has always taught our family and the kids here to treat each other the same, no matter of their race, background or anything else.”

Harold Brooks will soon turn over his duties as special projects coordinator of the Boys Club, which is primarily a recreational facility for boys from first through 12th-grade, but don’t think he’s cleaning out his office anytime soon.

“I will still be around, but now I can get back to doing one-on-one things with the kids that I used to miss because of my administrative duties,” he said. “I don’t ever see myself not being involved here.”

For more information on the Boys Club, call 256-245-5212.

Contact Emily Adams at eadams@dailyhome.com.

© 2013