Brooktown Middle: Amazing Champions
Brookstown Middle School principal James Smith gets a little choked up when he talks about his basketball coach, Mario Williams, whose team just won the middle school district championship.
“Let’s just put it this way. These kids were flood victims and their school flooded. They had nowhere to practice and no uniforms. Their coach flooded too. But he performs beyond all expectations. Not just as a coach but as a man. These kids come from tough situations at home. He picks them up at home and brings them to practice. Then he takes them home afterwards. When these kids don’t have anything for Christmas, he buys their Christmas with his own money, and he doesn’t even have it. Yes, there is a story here.”
Mario Williams went to Glen Oaks. “I had a great coach, Harvey Adger, who is still there after 40 years.” After high school, Mario won a scholarship to Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD, where he started for three years.
He and his wife lived with their four boys, aged 18, 16, 10, and 7, in Montecello before they were flooded out. Now they live in the Woodlawn area and are trying to recover from losing everything on the salaries of two teachers.
At Brookstown Middle, Mario is a counselor and in charge of truancy. That puts him as the only thing between the principal and a kid being expelled. But he is also “coach” to the boys on his team.
Coach Williams said, “These kids have an amazing story. In the 6th grade, the best players were kicked out of school. I tried to stay in touch. They came back in the 7th grade and got kicked out again. I can understand, because I was kicked out of Westdale Middle when I was in the 6th grade. Most of these young men have had a tough life. Sometimes there is no one at all to take care of them. Sometimes teachers don’t understand how hard they have it at home. We struggled together through the bad times. I wake up in the morning and take this job to heart. In December, I saw a sadness in some of the boys, because they had no Christmas. I’ve seen anger in some of these boys because of their circumstances, but they have turned their lives around! They know we care about them, and they will run through the wall for you!”
Do these kids have talent? Indeed they do. It started at the Baker tournament when they played without having real uniforms or ever having practiced. They won the tournament and never looked back all season!
Mario’s only regret this year: “All the places that turned us down for a place to practice. Our school had flooded, and there was no place to go.”