Wes Brooks’ love for coffee is surpassed only by his cerebral approach to baseball, and the veteran Oxford coach needed extra shots of Starbucks in 2019.
For what Brooks’ team accomplished against his personally taxing backdrop, Brooks is once again The Anniston Star’s Calhoun County Class 4A-6A baseball coach of the year.
Oxford finished 22-12, falling to Hartselle in a first-round playoff series that went the full three games. The Yellow Jackets won an area title and the county tournament and were the lone team among the 4A-6As in the county to make the playoffs.
This happened despite Oxford losing its catcher, infield, center fielder and three of its top four pitchers from 2018. Brooks also had six new assistant coaches.
That alone makes Brooks an easy choice as coach of the year, but he spent the season juggling baseball and helping to care for his mother as she battled end-stage cancer. Pat Brooks died April 6.
There were long nights, followed by long days at school and on the ballfield. Brooks and other family members were in a routine, with his part typically spanning the hours between practice or a game and 5:30 the next morning, when he got up to get ready for work.
Brooks estimates his Starbucks intake jumped a cup to a cup-and-a-half a day.
On the day Pat Brooks died, Brooks was with her, checking GameChanger from time to time to follow his team’s 7-2 victory over Bremen (Ga.).
“I was able to hold her while she took her last breath, and I’ll always remember that,” Brooks said. “The players sent me messages, saying, ‘We won that for Mama Brooks.’”