VANCOUVER, WA (KPTV) – It has been a challenging season off of the court for the Prairie High School boys’ basketball team as the Falcons’ longtime head coach, Kyle Brooks, has been away from school since the new year with a rare disease.
Thursday night, they “filled the nest” at Prairie High School in honor of Coach Brooks.
It’s a great day to be a Falcon – a bi-district playoff game in the home finale for Prairie and the Falcon seniors. It’s just a shame Coach Brooks couldn’t be here to see it.
This is what 20 years of service and 357 career victories for your school and community looks like.
“When Coach T came to practice and told us he couldn’t see, he couldn’t even move, I think that all hit us really hard. this is really serious,” said senior Zeke Dixson.
Guillain-Barre syndrome has kept Brooks in now his third hospital to rehab from temporary paralysis since Jan. 3.
“We do everything for him in his honor because we are not only representing us when we play or just walk around the streets, we represent Prairie,” said senior Brady Gagnon.
Coach Brooks has been missed in the halls, at hoops and in so many lives in and around Prairie.
“He is like a second dad to me because when I have problems, I go to him since I didn’t grow up with a dad. I still text him even though he doesn’t respond because he is going through stuff,” said senior Aidan Fraly.
When asked why he texts Brooks if he knows he can’t respond, Fraly said, “I just want him to know that I am always here for him and just know that I am still thinking about him and always keep him updated with everything.”
Thursday night was quite the update to send coach and his family. His wife of 35 years, Jane Brooks, was in “The Nest” for the first time this year to know she and her three adult sons are not going through this alone.
“I don’t know if she knows the depth of the support and the impact her husband has had on the Prairie community and the people in this area,” said assistant coach Jimmy Tuominen.
Tuominen, the interim leader, is from the Prairie class of ’95. Joining Brooks’ crimson and gold staff in 2007, Coach T has instilled a collective unit that Brooks was striving for in this season now since dedicated to him.
“There is a lot more heart,” Dixson said. “We weren’t really as a team when he left and that’s what he was preaching, just team, team, team.”
Their thoughts remain with Coach Brooks to defeat the debilitating disease.
“He is doing a lot better,” said Tuominen. “It is going to be a slow, long process but he is starting to talk now. He has been opening his eyes. He has always been aware of what’s happening but is just not able to communicate and really move his body in a controlled manner. It’s going to be a while in terms of his getting his strength back up where he will hopefully be able to get back in the gym and coach and certainly teaching P.E. here.”
Many look forward to seeing Coach Brooks back in the gym next season. For now, Prairie continues to march on in the playoffs for a third straight trip to the hardwood classic, the state tournament in the Tacoma Dome.
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