By Joel Coleman
The East Oktibbeha Lady Titans found plenty of success in 2010-11.
A 19-10 overall record, a perfect 10-0 mark in Class A, Region 5 play and a postseason berth were just some of the accomplishments that thrilled fans in Crawford.
Orchestrating it all was The Starkville Daily News All-Area Girls Coach of the Year Randy Brooks.
In just his second season at the helm of the East Oktibbeha program, Brooks breathed life back into the Lady Titans.
It was a process that actually started in 2009 when Brooks took over the team after a woeful 7-18 year the season before.
"One of the first things I wanted to institute was I wanted to become a team that people would want to pay five dollars to come and watch," said Brooks. "A few years ago, I was a fan, and the only thing I wanted to do was come in at halftime of the girls game and watch the second half, then watch the whole boys game. Basically, I just wanted to see the boys play. I didn't want to see the girls play. So I decided we weren't going to be boring."
Being a veteran coach, Brooks knew where he wanted the Lady Titans to be. More importantly, he had an idea of how to get there.
"First thing I told them is we're going to play good defense, take good shots and take care of the basketball," said Brooks. "I told them, if we do those three things, not only will we be exciting, but we'll win most of our games."
Brooks was right. East Oktibbeha finished two games over the .500 mark (14-12) in Brooks' first season before this year's success.
In Brooks' eyes, 2010-11 could have turned into something even more special if not for the circumstances.
"We were capable of going further (in the playoffs)," said Brooks. "I was proud of the effort that the girls gave. This was a good group to coach. At the end, we just didn't get it done. We ran into Bogue Chitto on Bogue Chitto's floor and that's a tough task for anybody."
Despite pushing East Oktibbeha back to prominence, Brooks announced after the season he will no longer be the head coach of the Lady Titans, choosing to focus on other aspects of his life and career.
For one, Brooks is seeking to become Oktibbeha County's District 5 supervisor.
In addition, giving up girls basketball gives Brooks more time to focus on his job as the Titans head football coach.
"Football at East Oktibbeha takes precedent over every other sport and I think it's about time that I concentrated on bringing the football program back to where it should be," said Brooks.
That didn't make things any easier for Brooks' basketball team when they learned of their coach's decision.
"They were disappointed," said Brooks. "In a couple of years, they had started to get used to me and I was starting to get used to them."
The bond that began to grow is why Brooks says he'll still be watching intently when the Lady Titans take the court next year.
"Even though I won't be their head coach, they are still students of mine and they'll be in class and see me around the school," said Brooks. "I'll be at every game because I'm part of the security detail. But I think whoever comes in to coach is getting a team of winners. I think they'll have a good enough team to make it to Jackson next year and play in The Big House."