Cpl. Jamie D. Brooks has dedicated a majority of his time during off-duty hours to teach, lead, train and mentor Marines as well as the local Beaufort community in the past two year. What sets him apart from his peers is the dedication to help others regardless of the sacrifices he has to endure. Brooks was introduced to youth sports at an early age and understands the impact it can have on a young person’s life. He approaches both coaching and training with the same mentality he grew up on.
“I grew up playing baseball,” said the administrative specialist with the Installation Personnel Administration Center, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “I started playing in second grade and have loved sports ever since. Looking back, I realize that the skills I learned playing sports as a kid are important life skills. That’s why I coach now, to give back and teach the kids in my community not only the sport, but team work and self-discipline.”
Brooks grew up in Roseville, Mich. A year after graduating high school, he enlisted in the . After completing recruit training at Recruit Depot Parris Island, Marine Combat Training, and his military occupational school in Camp Gilbert H. Johnson, N.C., he reported to Air Station Beaufort. Soon after arriving to the air station Brooks realized that his life was missing something.
“I was working out in the gym one day and saw a Community Services poster asking for Ma- rines to coach youth sports teams,” said Brooks. “I realized coaching was something I could do to make a difference and give back.”
He began coaching three youth sports teams a year, but he still wanted to do more with his time. In February of this year Brooks attended the Martial Arts Instructor course at MCRD Parris Island. Since then he has been running MCMAP courses six days a week. His classes begin at 4:30 a.m. and end at 7 a.m.
“I wake up at four every morning and get ready for MCMAP,” said Brooks. “After class I’ll change over for work and work until 4:30 p.m. After, I coach a sports team three times a week.”
When Brooks is coaching he focuses on teaching proper technique. For each sport he coaches he ensures that the players get the attention they need, adjusting his coaching methods to each individual.
“If one of my players is struggling with a skill, I make sure I take the time to work with them in a way that gets through to them,” said Brooks. “I remember when I was growing up I used to struggle with batting. One of my players had the same issue and after I figured out how to teach them in a way that they understood, they got it. Now they are one of my most reliable batters on the team.”
Brooks approaches his coaching and teaching with an understanding that everyone learns differently as he did in the past. He explains that the most important thing is that the Marine or player can measure their success by the amount of improvement.
“My personal philosophy is that I want them to walk away knowing that they are better than when they began,” said Brooks. “They will know that they overcame whatever they were struggling with. I like to think that one day someone I coached or taught could become a great athlete.”
When it comes to physical training Brooks pushes his Marines and players to the limit. Whether they are running drills or racing through the obstacle course, he demands 100 percent effort.
“The reason why I take my Marines to the obstacle course and the confidence course is because I want them to remember that they are a Marine – a tactical athlete,” said Brooks. “It’s easy for Marines to become complacent, being stationed aboard an air station, but I want to make sure they get back to the basics. I want them to feel like they are doing ‘Marine things’, pushing themselves and overcoming their own expectations of themselves. That’s what being a Marine is all about.”
According to Brooks an important aspect of leadership development is sacrificing your time to invest in the community around you. He volunteers once a month out in the local Beaufort community.
“Even though I don’t have a lot of down time I never get tired of it,” said Brooks. “It really doesn’t take that much to make a difference in the lives of people around you. A few hours a day is all it takes. Seeing the change in a Marine’s mindset – the confidence they gain, or seeing the joy in the kids’ faces is what makes it all worth it.”
Brooks was awarded the bronze and silver Presidential Volunteer Service Award and has plans to continue to instruct, coach and volunteer. He wants to encourage more Marines to get out there and make a difference for others as he strives to every day.
“True leaders will make the time to invest in and mentor others,” said Brooks. “I want to know that I made a difference in someone’s life and made them better.”