One of the great high school coaches in North Carolina history was honored on February 24 at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Front row from left: Dave Bullock and Tunney Brooks; standing from left Chancellor Jenkins, James Granger, Paul Willoughby, Johnny Strickland, Bruce Mullis and Dan Kenney.
More than 100 friends, family and fellow coaches turned out to honor A.G. ‘Tunney’ Brooks at a reception and ceremony in the Native Angels Home Care & Hospice Braves Club Room of the English E. Jones Athletic Center. He was a coach and athletic director at Lumberton High School for 31 years.
The Lumberton Booster Club and Coach Brooks’ friends contributed $100,000 to an endowed or permanent athletic scholarship in his name. It is the largest athletic scholarship at UNCP.
“I love every one of you,” Brooks said during the ceremony. “I love everything you’re doing to help UNC Pembroke and Lumberton High School. I love you all.
“Thank you for all you did for me when I came to Lumberton,” he continued. “I came here to teach, but I learned more from you.
“I thoroughly enjoyed coaching and teaching,” Brooks said, lighting up the room. “If I’d known I was going to have to do all this, I’d have run a few laps to get into better shape.”
Coach Brooks came to Lumberton in 1959. He coached football and basketball and was athletic director. He instantly turned around an ailing athletic program and for 31 years steered the Lumberton Pirates to solid success.
Attending the event were coaches like Findley Read, who coached with him in Lumberton, and Rockingham High School coach Bill Eutsler; friends like Charlie Kinlaw, who like Brooks played at Wake Forest; and players like Nicky Guy, a Shrine Bowl player, and Paul Willoughby, who played and coached for him.
“Tunney Brooks was the coach that other coaches said got more from less,” said Paul Willoughby, who is also a UNCP graduate and current trustee. “I was fortunate to play three years for him in the late 1960s and then come back to coach Lumberton High School’s football team under him as athletic director.
“Coach, we love you,” Willoughby said.
Willoughby described Brooks with the terms “trust, stability, organization and structure.”
The endowment will produce a maximum of four $1,000 scholarships each year with a guarantee that at least two will be awarded. The scholarship will be open to male and female student-athletes at UNCP, who exhibit character, maintain a 2.5 grade point average and demonstrate financial need.
The scholarship will be first offered to student-athletes from Lumberton Senior High School then to student-athletes from Robeson County will be eligible. If no Robeson athlete qualifies, the scholarship will be available to any student-athlete at UNCP.
“I have been contacted by people as far away as Alaska and California about giving to this scholarship,” James Granger, scholarship facilitator, told The Robesonian.
UNCP Chancellor Dr. Charles Jenkins coached against Brooks for three years while at Scotland High School. “In life and sports, we run into people all the time who are legends in their own mind, but not coach Brooks,” Chancellor Jenkins said. “He truly is a legend.
“When I coached against him, we almost never won,” he said.
Dave Bullock, a former player, is making a special tribute to the coach of a scale “Pirate” ship named in his honor.
“She’s got 30 long guns,” Bullock said. “Coach, she’s deadly.”
Attending the event were Brooks’ wife, Joan; sons, Ritchie and John; their wives, Carol and Sherry respectively, and five grandchildren.
Ritchie Brooks spoke for the family.
“The things you did made his career, and the things he did made you who you are,” Brooks said. “Thank you for this ceremony and for what you have done for our father and your coach.”
UNCP Athletic Director Dan Kenney said the University will ensure that the scholarship honors its namesake.
“When we select recipients for this scholarship, we won’t compromise the values that coach Brooks stood for,” Kenney said. “Coach, it is a great honor to be in the room with you.”
For more information or to contribute to the A.G. “Tunney” Brooks Student-Athlete Endowed Scholarship, please contact the Office for Advancement at 910.521.6252 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.