The meaning of 400
Brooks’ recent win seals the deal
Published: Friday, February 15, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 14, 2013 16:02
On Jan. 30 in the Junell Center when the buzzer hit triple zeroes, Head Coach Sally Walling Brooks was christened into a new club.
The ‘Belles’ 54-47 victory over Eastern New Mexico University secured Brooks as one of the few coaches who achieved 400 career wins as a head coach in college basketball.
Although Brooks doesn’t care that much about milestones as much as she does winning the next game; one has to appreciate the important value of such an accomplishment.
Along with 400 wins over 22 years, Brooks has coached her teams to four Lone Star Conference Championships, seven consecutive NCAA Regionals appearances and has had eight seasons with 20+ wins in the regular season.
“I think what really allows her to be successful is how passionate she is about the game,” Assistant Coach Stacy Duffell said. ”She wants her players to succeed and is always putting her players first to put them in the best situations where they can win games.”
Duffell started her relationship with Brooks as one of her players, then became an assistant under her and has known Duffell for 18 years.
Brooks’ husband Kevin, the head coach of ASU’s baseball team, said he has the utmost respect for his wife not only as her spouse, but as a fellow coach.
“She’s very knowledgeable,” Kevin Brooks said. “She’s passionate, works her tail off and she’s really good as what she does. She has a great relationship with her players and she’s able to motivate them. She’s a lot better than I am.”
Her husband’s team is the reigning Lone Star Conference Champions.
One of her players that Brooks has motivated is senior Morgan Youngblood, who has been a player under Brooks for four years.
“She does a great job of getting us all to work together as one unit,” Youngblood said. “All of us strive for the same goal so it really helps us.”
Besides motivational, many have described Brooks as intense.
To describe Brooks as intense is to describe the universe as fairly large.
Brooks is one of the most intense people that anyone would ever encounter at game time because of her competitive drive and that drive has made her a successful coach.
“She knows the game of basketball,” Duffell said. “She knows the Xs and Os so that the team has the best ability to win when they step out on the floor.”
Youngblood said that many years from now, she will remember Brooks for her intensity and motivational ability
“She told us before one of our games this year, ‘I’ve got your six,’” Youngblood said. “Just like marines tell each other meaning she’s got our back in this game and it really got us motivated and ready to play. Now, before every game we take a little sharpie and write ‘six’ on our hands to be a motivating factor.”
Perhaps Brooks’ greatest coaching moment came against Southeastern Oklahoma in the semi-final of the 2002 Lone Star Conference Tournament.
“That was her second year here and the year before she totally turned them around,” Kevin Brooks said. “They started in the fall and did not do well; lost a lot of non conference games and the only way they were getting to regionals is if they win the conference. They had to win the conference tournament to get to the postseason.”
ASU was hosting the tournament, so they had home court advantage but Southeastern Oklahoma had something else.
“Southeastern had the best player in the country, and we weren’t supposed to win that game and probably shouldn’t.” Kevin Brooks said.
And what happened?
“She had them prepared and had them feeling like if they can win that game, they can win in finals and they did.” Kevin Brooks said. “It was a great feeling and I was really proud of her.”
Brooks has made her career by being able to take players with a range of personalities and talents and figuring out how to use them to the best of their ability.
“Each year is different because you are getting different players every year, so each year she brings a new level to her coaching ability and meet the challenge of the players to make them successful.” Duffell said.
As the years go by, the game naturally evolves and changes, but so does Brooks.
“She’s been able to revamp offenses, change offenses to put the players in successful positions and recruit athletes that will fit in her offense.” Duffell said. “As the years have gone by, the game has changed and she’s been able to stay up there in the coaching realm. I don’t think the game will ever go by her.”
And if Brooks has anything to say about it, it won’t.