LAURINBURG — If you’re a fan of Scotland football, Saturday probably felt like a punch to the gut.
Former Scotland running back Zamir White, now at the University of Georgia, left a scrimmage with a torn ACL. News of that injury broke around the time the Fighting Scots took the field for their season-opening 47-19 loss to Matthews Butler.
To top it all off, starting quarterback Bruce Wall had to be helped off the field in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury.
It wasn’t a good day in general for the Scots as they struggled to contain Butler’s offense on a stormy day in Charlotte. For those who made the trip to American Legion Memorial Stadium or listened to WLNC’s coverage of the game, the Scots’ performance on Saturday certainly didn’t live up to past expectations.
It won’t be easy for fans of a team that advanced to the state championship game last year to be patient. It’s going to be challenging for supporters of the Scots, a team that hasn’t lost more than two games in a season since it went 7-5 in 2010, to understand that falling short is a part of the maturation process for this young football squad that lost 32 seniors from last year.
But it needs to happen, and there’s someone who can help.
That person isn’t with us anymore, but almost everyone who’s been involved with Scotland athletics over the past half-century probably knew and appreciated him.
Ricky Brooks, who spent the better part of his 37-year career in education at Scotland High School, passed away on Aug. 10 at the age of 64. Brooks was a beloved individual known for his pleasant demeanor and his ability to connect with the students he taught and the athletes he coached.
He always wore a smile that Laurinburg Police Chief Darwin “Duke” Williams called ‘infectious’. Brooks, who coached football, track, baseball and basketball at Scotland, would frequently go the extra mile to make sure that the kids he worked with were set up for success on the field, in the classroom and at home.
Brooks’ happiness never ceased and he never stopped caring, even when he faced life-changing adversity.
June Brooks, Ricky’s wife of more than 40 years, reminisced on those times while delivering the eulogy at her husband’s funeral on Aug. 15.
When their son Joshua passed away, June said Ricky was a source of strength, constantly reminding family members to trust in God’s plan.
When Ricky’s fight with Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s dementia took his ability to speak near the end of his life, June said her husband’s upbeat attitude helped keep his family in good spirits.
Ricky Brooks always had a positive outlook on life regardless of the circumstances, and that’s partly what made him such a well-respected person.
As part of her closing address at Ricky’s funeral, the Rev. Laura Fine Ledford delivered a simple piece of advice to the hundreds of us in attendance at Scotland’s auditorium about what we should learn from Brooks’ life.
“Imitate Ricky,” she said.
Scotland fans will be rewarded if they aim to imitate Brooks, a man who walked the sidelines for the Scots in a variety of roles for several decades.
Be prepared to handle some adversity, because there will be plenty of it for the Scots this season. As a tribute to “Coach” Ricky Brooks, we should always be patient and consider the good that will come out of it.
Brandon Tester can be reached at [email protected] or 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.