Raiders Chris Brooks overcomes multiple obstacles on the way to a record season


Brooks suffered a compound fracture in his freshman football season

South Range’s Chris Brooks reached a pair of major career milestones Wednesday night in the Raiders’ 64-47 win over Niles.

CANFIELD, OHIO (WKBN) – One of the best measurements of top athletes is usually the type of statistics that they put up.  How many points, rebounds, touchdowns, and receptions they record distinguishes them from many others.

But for South Range senior Chris Brooks, those accomplishments are secondary to his desire to just play the two sports he loves while also displaying great character toward others surrounding him.  He makes it a point not to take playing sports for granted.

“Growing up, football was always something I loved.  Freshman year, week seven, October 7th, I snapped my arm in half and didn’t play the following year.  I was lucky the bone didn’t come out of the skin.  I was very fortunate, but it was a nasty break,” Brooks reflected on the compound fracture he suffered.  “I missed a bunch of school.  Two surgeries, sixteen pins, and two plates later.”

As horrific as that incident was, Brooks also experienced several other injuries and broken bones before his freshman year.  Most of those came on the basketball floor.

“In eighth-grade coach wanted me to play with the junior varsity and freshman at a camp, and on the last session I went up for a layup and some kid tried to block me and I landed on my wrist.  I broke my wrist,” He recalled.  “And then I broke it again, I fractured my tibia, and had a bone infection in my ankle all in eighth grade.”

“I’ve had my fair share of hospitals,” he said with a chuckle.  “Just staying healthy is something that I’m really fortunate to enjoy.  Anything can happen at any moment.  I don’t take being healthy for granted.  Because when I was hurt, all I wanted to do was go outside and run around.  But I couldn’t, and I was stuck in the house all day.  It’s something people take for granted.  Being healthy.  But for me, I try to look at it as taking advantage of the opportunity and don’t dwell on the past.”

Through those difficult days, Brooks had both his mother Jennifer and father Joe, along with older brother Matt and younger brother Jacob providing a lot of support and inspiration.  That is also when Raider’s eighth-grade wide receiver football coach DJ Frederick became a huge part of his life.

“He’s really been someone I can talk about anything with.  I can go over there and have hours of conversation with him and his wife,” Brooks said.  “He has been one person I have really relied upon.  He has been such an inspiration to me.  And without him, none of this football and basketball would be possible as he trained me.”

Perhaps those dark days of trying to heal both mentally and physically have helped to mold Brooks into the person he is today.  Both his football coach Dan Yeagley and basketball coach John Cullen praised him for the type of young man he has become today.

“He’s a great young man, fantastic,” Yeagly stated.  “He’s a leader, he’s always willing to help and do the extra things to lead by example.  A remarkable young man.  You see him in the hallways, and he’s always talking to other kids and helping other kids out.  He’s always willing to help.”

“He’s a quality person,” Cullen added.  “He mentors young kids all the time.  He just does a lot of really good things.”

After taking a year off from sports, Brooks proved to be one of the top players in the area the past two years on both the football field and on the hardwood.  As a receiver for the Raiders football team, he caught 26 passes for 533 yards and 6 touchdowns, helping the Raiders to finish second in the NE8 and advance to the district semi-finals.  That was following his junior season where he snagged 24 passes for 451 yards and 4 scores.

On the basketball court, he became only the second player in Raiders history to top 1,000 points, ending his career with 1,046 points.  On top of that, he set the single-season record for rebounds with 278, breaking the previous mark of 259.  He closed his career with 620 caroms, second-most in school history.  Those milestones helped him to be honored as the NE8 “Player of the Year”, and be named to the third-team All-Ohio squad.

Unfortunately for Brooks, the recent coronavirus outbreak has taken away a chance for him to enjoy one last opportunity to be recognized and play those two beloved sports.  The basketball all-star games he was selected to have been canceled, and the Ohio North-South football game in April has already been canceled.

“I think every all-star football and basketball game has been canceled.  It’s just life,” Brooks said.  “It’s kind of nice to play with a bunch of guys you don’t usually play with.  But it is what it is.”

“We’re all in unchartered territory right now,” Yeagley remarked.  “I feel bad for him because he had a great high school career in both football and basketball.  It would be nice to play in some all-star games, but now he’s unable to.  It still doesn’t take away from this season and from who he is.  He is a great young man.”

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