WILMINGTON – The UNC Wilmington community remembers the life of legendary coach William "Bill" Brooks. The man recognized as the "father of UNCW's athletic program" died Monday at age 88.
The Wilson native was the college's first athletic director, serving 40 years at the position. He was also the college's first baseball and basketball coach.
On Tuesday, one of Brooks' former baseball players Larry Honeycutt circled the bases of Brooks Field in memory of Brooks.
"I'm just one of his boys," reflected Honeycutt, a UNCW physical education teacher and former UNCW tennis coach. "He had lots of boys and I just happen to be fortunate to be one of those."
Honeycutt recalled just how much of an impact his former coach, boss and mentor made on his life.
"As players we'll always have a very fond memory of our playing time here," said Honeycutt. "Just knowing he was responsible for us being who we are and what we are today."
Brooks' vision is still felt on campus. He's responsible for establishing the baseball field and nearly all the athletic facilities, including the swimming and diving pool inside Trask Coliseum.
"Every time I come on this campus, every facility that I see connected with athletics and physical education, I see Coach Brooks. To me, Coach Brooks is synonymous with UNC Wilmington," reflected UNCW Head Swimming Coach Dave Allen.
When Brooks began his career at UNCW in 1951, about 50 athletes played two sports. Now, there's about 360 athletes involved in 19 sports.
"He was so limited budget wise and he knew how to get the most out of the dollar and to do things by asking people for help," explained David Miller, a former baseball player and assistant baseball coach. "And what people don't often realize, is the hard work he put in himself."
One of Brooks' biggest accomplishments was getting UNCW into the Colonial Athletic Association, the conference the school still competes in today.
However, players like Honeycutt will remember the impact he made on athletes lives.
"He's a big person with a big heart and that influence spread amongst all of us and that's something that we will carry with us forever," said Honeycutt.
The memorial for Coach Brooks is this Saturday at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on the corner of 5th and Market Street in Wilmington.
The public can make donations on behalf of Brooks to the Bill Brooks Baseball Scholarship Fund at UNCW.
Watch the video below to see more on Coach Brooks from Miller, Allen and Honeycutt.
TWC News: Former UNCW coach, athletics pioneer dies
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