UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS -- Brian Brooke of Youngstown feels honored that his teammates on the John Carroll University football team have elected him one of five captains for this coming season.
The senior linebacker, a graduate of Cardinal Mooney High, always has loved being in a leadership role, and is hoping that he can be the best representative possible for his teammates.
"We were chosen for these positions because our teammates believed that we will take the responsibility and do the right thing with it and lead the team in the right direction both on and off the field, with action," said Brooke, who was elected in June after emerging as one of John Carroll's defensive leaders last year as a starter.
"We have about 130 guys on the team, and it's an honor to be considered a leader of that many people," Brooke said.
Has good instincts
Although a small player in size at 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, Brooke has used his instincts to guide him to the ballcarrier and make tackles.
Last year, starting every game, he came up with 43 tackles, including 22 solo stops, and five tackles for losses of 17 yards, while also forcing two fumbles and recovering two fumbles.
Brooke helped John Carroll to a 7-3 record, including 6-3 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, one of the losses being to Mount Union (33-30), the eventual NCAA Division III national champion.
He broke into the starting lineup as a sophomore by starting the last two games of the season.
Actually, Brooke enjoyed a leadership role last season by calling defensive signals, and will do so again this year along with handling other expanded duties.
He will participate in the pre-game coin toss, lead the stretching and warm-up exercises before the game and second half and also during practice sessions, give talks to the players, serve as an advisor and helper to players, and as their liaison to the coaching staff.
Serves his teammates
"We are representing the players," Brooke said. "[We] are the voice of the team between the players and the coaches. If players have a problem, the captain can go to the coach to help to resolve it."
He said there are times when a player would rather solve a problem without going to a coach, "because some guys may not be comfortable talking to the coach and would prefer to talk to me."
He said captains can function as guiding lights to freshmen, too.
"The freshmen have questions that you answer," like where do I go or what do I do. "You just got to help them out. I remember being a freshman and not knowing what was going on, and the guys that helped me, just like when I was at Mooney."
He said his main job when calling defensive signals is to make sure that his team is using the best defensive alignment against the offense.
"The coach will send in a certain defense, and sometimes because of the offensive formation we may have to change it, depending on what the offense gives us, [like] change from the weak to the strong side, or vice versa," Brooke said. "We have the authority to make decisions to change a defensive call based on our evaluation of the offense."
However, Brooke knows the parameters of his responsibilities.
"But I also can follow, and I don't overstep my boundaries and I try to respect everyone because I know others are leaders, too."
Likes leadership role
Brooke said he always wanted to be a leader.
"I was a captain while at Mooney. I felt that my players relied on me to make good decisions on and off the field. Leadership to me just came natural. I don't know why," Brooke said. "Linebackers always were considered leaders on the defense."
Brooke said he believes his biggest asset as a linebacker is his instinct.
"My strong point as a linebacker is my ability to get where the ball is -- just instinct. I've always had instinct. It's not my size, because I'm small."
Joining Brooke as new captains are linebacker Chris Cubero, cornerback Greg Dochod and receiver Jeff Lerner, while quarterback Tom Art returns as a captain.
In brother's footsteps
Brooke is following in the footsteps of his brother, Wayne Brooke, who also was a starting linebacker for John Carroll and Cardinal Mooney.
"We played two years together [at John Carroll] and at Mooney," said Brian, who is majoring in communications and has a 3.0 grade-point average.
Come this school year, he will be serving a one-semester internship in the John Carroll sports information office, while carrying 15 hours of academic work and also returning to his part-time office job with the dean of students.
Brooke said the internship will "get me a head start. I kind of want to go into the sports field [and] in public relations, so I want to get familiar with things around sports, not just from a players stand point."
Brooke is the son of Marie and Wayne Brooke. Brian also has three sisters: Courtnay, Leslie and Janeace.