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Interview with William J. Brooks, September 5, 2006 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with William J. Brooks, September 5, 2006
September 5, 200
William Jasper ("Bill") Brooks is interviewed for Voices of UNCW. He served as the first Athletics Director as well as basketball and baseball coach. Mr. Brooks came to Wilmington in 1951 to hold a dual appointment for New Hanover High School and Wilmington College. He began full-time at Wilmington College in 1956. He served as chair of the physical education department until his retirement in 1991. Mr. Brooks has been inducted into the NC Sports Hall of Fame and the UNCW Sports Hall of Fame. In this interview, Mr. Brooks discusses some of the students, faculty, and administrators he worked with over the years as he built the athletic program at UNCW. These people include faculty members in physical education (David Miller, Mel Gibson, and David Warner), UNCW administrators Charles Cahill, Marshall Crews, and William Randall, and many students/alumni.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee: Brooks, William Interviewer: Riggins, Adina Date of Interview: 9/5/2006 Series: Voices of UNCW - Faculty/Staff Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes


Riggins: Hello, my name is Adina Riggins. I'm the archivist and special collections cataloging librarian here at UNC Wilmington. I am here today with a very special guest. I'm very excited that you've come here, sir, to be part of our University Archives Oral History Program. Today's date is September 5, 2006, and please, sir, state your name for the tape.

William Brooks: I'm Bill Brooks, or William J. Brooks.

Riggins: Thank you. Thanks for coming here. We are located here in the university archives. I'm here with Mr. Brooks because even though we have interviewed him for the university archives some time ago, it's always good to get another interview and to get your perspective. In fact, I don't know if you remember, but another archivist interviewed you along with two other people several years ago along with Dr. Crews and Wayne Jackson. So it was three people. But I wanted you to come back and talk to us just one-on-one and get your perspective on your times here at Wilmington College and the important impact you've had on the history of our institution. We like to start off our interview with getting some background information about yourself. So, I understand you were born in Wilson. Can you please tell us exactly where you were born and where you grew up?

William Brooks: I was born in Wilson County, a little community called Black Creek. And we moved into Wilson when I was in about third or fourth grade. So I lived in Wilson until I graduated from high school.

Riggins: So, have you been back to Wilson much?

William Brooks: Went back one time. A lot of people here might know, because Leon Brogden, who was at Wilmington a long time, he was my high school coach, and he was responsible for getting me a job here at the college and at New Hanover High School on a dual type contract.

Riggins: That's amazing.

William Brooks: And I don't know exactly where to start, but during high school days, because I played all three sports, but like most athletes did in those days. We didn't have this one sport type deal and you put all your time on that. But you played it all. That's the way we did there. And when I got out of high school, I attended Wake Forest on a football scholarship. And he was there a year and then Pearl Harbor happened. So I dropped out of school and thought I was going right into service, but an injury that I had in football kept me out about almost, well, a year. And then I went in the Army Air Corps, and that was in early '44. And I was in there a couple of years and supposed go in to fly airplanes, but we never did finish our training. We were in the process of training when the war ended, and according to my discharge, for the convenience of the government they sent me home.

Riggins: Interesting. Well, I know you were doing some interesting things while you were in the service. But, to back up a little bit, you were at Wake Forest on a football scholarship, and it's just amazing to me since I'm from another generation, to hear about someone who actually dropped out of service to enlist in the Army. Was that common then because of the times, because of the situation with Pearl Harbor and World War II that young men were doing that?

William Brooks: Well, most of them didn't have a choice. In fact, I didn't know I had a choice until when the draft board-- I had heard from them and to come down for your physical and all that. And that's when-- I had a broken foot in football, and they said, "Well, it'll take three months to get that well." I still had swelling in my foot after three months, so it went on for about a year. And in the meantime, I got a job with the Olson Dietrich Engineering Company out of Durham. And I worked with them for almost a year. It was a good year. I also met my wife during that time. I was in her home town working in Edenton. So we decided to get married, and then I hadn't been married two months before I got another note from the draft board, "We're ready for you."

Riggins: So, you're in a sense already working for the war effort in a sense because you are in the industry, I suppose. So they said "We're ready for you."

William Brooks: I didn't want to go into the infantry. I didn't want to get drafted. So, I was working at Oakridge, Tennessee, at that time, with the Manhattan Project where they worked on the atomic bomb over there, because nobody knew what they were doing at that time. But I was working there and could probably, if I'd wanted to, could have stayed out of service. That was the supervisor there asked me about if I wanted to apply for exemption. And at that time, everybody that you knew was going into service, and I had then accepted. I went over and talked with them about the Army Air Corps. I thought flying would be really nice. So, once I was accepted there, then I decided I'd just go on in.

Riggins: Right, do your service. So, you ended up playing some ball while you were in the service; is that correct?

William Brooks: We had a baseball team on the base there in Enid, Oklahoma. And that's where I was sent for my-- going to be my basic training. And just happened that at that time when we went into Enid, they weren't quite ready for us for the next flight to take over, so they assigned us different places to work until we were ready to fly. And they sent me over to the gymnasium, to fly. And they sent me over to the gymnasium, since I had some background in athletics. And it just so happened they were looking for a couple more baseball players, and it just happened they were looking a first base man, which I had played first base and was a catcher. And so I got on that team and played all summer of '45. And we had a real good baseball team. All of them, the boys on the squad, were professionals except two. I had never played professional ball, and they had one pitcher that hadn't, but all the rest had. Some of them had been to the major leagues, and some of them in the minor leagues. But they were professionals. We ended up going to the national tournament in Wichita and winning that in '45. Shortly after that, I was released and came back to Wilson, and I got in-- I went to Atlantic Christian College and got-- I wanted to go ahead-- I knew I wanted to go ahead and finish college.

Riggins: That's where you finished? Right.

William Brooks: So, I went there and I played-- I was lucky enough to get on the professional team there at Wilson, and they let me go to school in the daytime and play ball at night.

Riggins: Really?

William Brooks: Yeah. And so, I went straight on through school, and with my wife's help and her helping me with my work. But there was a couple of good years that I was able to finish up school and get out. Then after I took a job in Bertie County at a high school called Colerain; that was the name of the town. It's no longer in existence. They've all consolidated with Bertie Central I think is all now have that. But I was there two years and I went in there to coach football and ended up basketball, baseball, and went in as basketball. So, about two years of that was just about all I could...

Riggins: Jack-of-all-trades.

William Brooks: ...could handle.

Riggins: Did you teach in the academic program also?

William Brooks: I had a homeroom and the whole thing. And that was probably good for me, but it was more than I should have attempted to do.

Riggins: They had a need, I'm sure.

William Brooks: I was playing professional baseball that summer, and the chairman of the Board of Education at that school came to see me. They said they wanted to start a football team and they needed a coach for the athletic program. I didn't realize I would be the whole department. But they got there and I asked them about ordering equipment and all that, and he said, "Well, go ahead and get what you want," and gave me a letter to the sporting goods company to supply, and he said, "Get enough for 30 people." And we ended up, we didn't have but 18 people show up for football. And we had to draft two or three.

Riggins: Yeah, because you need a lot of players for football.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: I don't know much, but I do know that much.

William Brooks: Yeah, we didn't have enough to practice because it took 22. And but we ended up playing for two years and getting started. He had a son that he wanted to play football. And that's where the whole idea of football came from, that he wanted it. So, we had football for two years, but after two years, I decided to go back and get my masters and look for something a little bit better.

Riggins: A little bit less crazy?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: And at this time, basketball was not as big as it is now; is that correct? The main sports-- I guess in high school, football is still...

William Brooks: Football is still probably-- of course, basketball has come a long ways. I know when I played at Wilson in high school, we all played football and we went out for basketball just to keep in shape for baseball more than anything else. And so we all, practically all the athletes, most of them played all three sports. And of course, there at Colerain, that's a little small place, and it was a little bit tough. But particularly, women's basketball was a little-- I never could find anybody to help me with that. And I tried to get some people who lived in town there that might have a little background to help a little, but it didn't work out, and I knew I just couldn't do that. So after, I'd say, well, I got through college, got that job, and I took off a year in 1950, went down to Miami to graduate school. And during that time, I had also, in the summer time, continued to play basketball. So, I went up to Canada. They had a league there that took college boys mostly. I went up there and carried a team. I knew some people up there. And I was playing manager of the team. I was up there four years, and that's when I came to Wilmington in '51, and in the summer, I'd go up there and play and then come back to Wilmington during the school year. So I did that for four years. And it worked out real well because of it was one of the best recruiting tools I ever had because these boys down here in Duke State, Carolina, Wake Forest, they were the ones I took up there to start with, and then some of the top high school boys, we were able to work them in, and then to have a chance to play in the summer up in Canada was a big deal.

Riggins: Yeah. Nice and cool, too.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: What team was it?

William Brooks: I was at Stellarton, Nova Scotia. And I was up there up through '54.

Riggins: That is a good way to recruit for your team, but maybe also to recruit for here?

William Brooks: Yeah. Yeah, and in fact some of the boys that I had up there playing for me, a lot of them went into coaching and I got to know them, and they were recruiting, of course, is knowing people is the main thing. And so, I had a lot of--

Riggins: You were connected.

William Brooks: Connections with boys then that I was coaching.

Riggins: Well, how did you get from Miami to Wilmington? Did Leon Brogden contact you?

William Brooks: I called him and told him I was going down. I think I called him after I got there and told him I was getting a master's. And if he knew, ran across anything, I'd be looking a job. And he called me and said he had something I might be interested in, that the college was looking a basketball, somebody to work with the basketball. And his assistant coach in football had just resigned; it was high school football. So I worked with him in football and in baseball.

Riggins: So, he had moved over from Wilson to New Hanover County a long time ago, or some time ago, and so he needed an assistant football coach, and he knew the college needed someone.

William Brooks: Yeah. He was the county athletic director. He was. And at that time, the college was, you know, one by the county.

Riggins: Oh, yeah. They were very much connected.

William Brooks: So, I think on, I think in '57 that I think I took over as athletic director there, and that's when we put in baseball.

Riggins: Okay. So he said, "I could use you." And had you ever been to Wilmington before?

William Brooks: Yeah, I used to, when I was at Wilson, we used to play Wilmington all the time. When he was coaching me up at Wilson, and then, of course, he came down here, I guess he came here in about 1945 or '46, somewhere around. He had been here several years. I came in 51, fall of 51. So, he was.

Riggins: That's when you came to Wilmington?

William Brooks: Right.

Riggins: And how did you feel about coming back to North Carolina?

William Brooks: Well, I was glad to get back here. I had been offered a job at a place I knew nothing about down in Florida, Apalachicola. I had never heard of it until then. And it's a little-- and I found out that it used to be more of an Indian village, but it's not as much now as was way back. And they had an opening there in their athletic department. And I had talked with the assistant superintendent over the telephone about a job and all, and I wasn't looking-- I would have probably taken it if I hadn't got anything else, but I'm happy I didn't. Didn't have to go over there.

Riggins: Yeah, something came up in North Carolina. So, you came in, wow, long time ago, fall of '51, and at that time, I mean, there was no real-- I mean, the college had started, but did you start with the college right away or were you exclusively with the high school?

William Brooks: I started basketball that year, and that was a very-- I didn't know anything about what they had. I had already signed the contract to go and take a team up to Canada there in '51.

Riggins: The high school team?

William Brooks: No, the semiprofessional. They used some professional players, but that was up at Stellarton, Nova Scotia. But I had been up there the summer before and had signed the contract with them to bring a team and coach it '51 year. So I went back up there in '51, '52, '53, and '54. And I had played ball up in that area with taking college boys and all over in New England before I went over to Nova Scotia, and _________. It's still one of the better college leagues in the country now.

Riggins: When you started in '51, you were doing college basketball and football with Coach Brogden.

William Brooks: And baseball with Coach Brogden.

Riggins: Wow, that was a split deal. And then, you know, sometime around '56, '57, you went full time with Wilmington College.

William Brooks: Right.

Riggins: Yeah, how did you feel about that?

William Brooks: Well, I knew, I always felt like the school was going to grow because I used to think about the thing with this and baseball, we had some good baseball background in this area. And when I came back to Wilmington there in '55, I didn't go back to Canada. I finished up there in '54. And I came here and in the summer I coached the American Legion team, which was made up of the high school boys. And in '55 and '56, we had real good-- some real good players, better than what you'd normally find. And that's when we decided that maybe we could have a team after college, and we decided to have that, and we had good people. In fact, in '57, we were kind of late deciding to have a team. So we didn't play too many ball games, other than just a few. And then the next year, '58, we won the conference championship; and at that time, the team that went to the nationals was picked by a committee on who had the best chance of winning and all. And we got bypassed. We won the championship, but camel college at that time had some real good pitchers, and I think the committee decided they'd be-- might do a better job. But then we won the championship the next five years and went to the nationals the next five years, and won it a couple of times and ended up second another time.

Riggins: You really built up both programs, the basketball and the baseball.

William Brooks: Yeah, both. We had some pretty good athletes come through here at that time, and a lot of it was from people that I've new before to help in the recruiting situation. And our basketball program, people wonder where we got some of the players we got. But at that time, the Atlantic Coast Conference had a rule that in order to play ball in that conference, you had to have a certain grade point prediction. And you couldn't-- I happened to know Coach Case up at NC State, and I got to know Frank McGuire, who was at Chapel Hill at that time. And I went up in talked with both of them and asked them if they had some people that they would like to have and can't get in that maybe I could get them in and would play them a year and then they could go back to their place. And we did that, and that's where we came up. Our last two years at junior college, we went to the nationals and, in fact, the last five years in baseball; we went to the nationals the last two years in basketball. But they were, that's the recruiting deal that we had getting players who could, they could play. They could have played at Carolina, they could have played at State if they could have got in. But we were able to take advantage of that.

Riggins: Well, you know, it's amazing because you have these statistics for how many times you went to nationals and then you actually in baseball--but we haven't really talked about that--but you won the conference championship and regionals and went to nationals for many years.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: And you were competing against teams that had a lot more resources, I'm sure.

William Brooks: Oh, I'm sure of that, too.

Riggins: And they had been around longer, more established. So, I mean, talk about the recruiting, how that was an important element. What was it like then with the, well, for example, lack of resources. There was no such thing as is a van or anything, was there?

William Brooks: You'd be surprised how we traveled. We had a station wagon that the school had bought, and we had people we paid gas mileage and so forth and people who would travel. We had some parents who had boys who were playing that helped us out some. But we went out to Colorado, we went out there five years in a row, and we drove out there. That's something that's kind of unheard of. This day and time, I don't know how many boys would really be hipped up about getting in even automobile and driving over 2,000 miles to play a baseball tournament and then come back.

Riggins: Right, amazing, yeah.

William Brooks: But we'd drive day and night and got out there. And it was a good experience, good experience.

Riggins: And one of your players was David Miller; is that right?

William Brooks: Yep.

Riggins: Yeah? Did you recruit him?

William Brooks: I recruited him. He was one of our, I'd say, stars over the years. He was picked on the junior college all-American team. And Dave was a very smart young man, and he knew what it was like, and you could almost say he was like assistant coach. And I remember I put him, I had a pitcher that I didn't know a whole lot about his background, but I knew was a good pitcher. And I felt like maybe Dave could put him rooming together. We didn't have any dormitories or cafeterias. So I put Dave rooming with him and I think that's probably one of the smarter things I did because Dave kept the young man straight for a couple of years, and he ended up going to Carolina after he finished here, and I forgot the name of their cup up there, that they give to the top athlete, but this boy got that at Carolina.

Riggins: Really? And so David was a kind of level-headed influence?

William Brooks: Yeah. He was a level-headed influence.

Riggins: He didn't get carried away himself, because he was a kid himself.

William Brooks: Yeah, we had several boys that made that all-American team. And after the junior college, it was a couple of tough years there because they had national rules that you couldn't be eligible to play for the championships or anything until after all your people from junior college days had graduated. And so we had two years there that we had some pretty good ball, some good players, but they weren't eligible to play because they hadn't. I can understand that rule because a junior college is-- our entrance requirements and all were less than the four-year. So, the four-year schools didn't want you to come jumping in their bunch with a bunch of junior college boys.

Riggins: Yeah, that was when you were in the NAI? National?

William Brooks: That's the NAIA.

Riggins: NAIA, yeah. National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Yeah.

William Brooks: And we finally got back on track after a couple of years and won that, went to the nationals and NAIA in '75. And then right after that, we applied for the NCAA, so we had to go back through three years because the NAIA requirements were less than NCAA. So we had to catch up again. So it was a little while there before we, well in '75, then in '76, '77, '78, it was about '79 before we were even eligible for a championship again. But we went into the NCAA division 1.

Riggins: Were you in a conference from the beginning?

William Brooks: Well, we were independent. We couldn't get in the conference. We got into the Colonial Athletic thing in '85.

Riggins: Right, so you were independent for a while.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: But you still made it, you still were eligible for some tournaments, you know, around '78, '79, you said you went to, in baseball, where you were...

William Brooks: And when was that now?

Riggins: Were you playing in some tournaments or national-level tournaments?

William Brooks: We played in '75 national level with the NAIA. And then the next year, we applied for the NCAA, which we weren't eligible for a while, for three years. Then I coached up to '83 I think.

Riggins: In baseball?

William Brooks: In baseball.

Riggins: By this time, you said before the interview started that when you came back to this new campus and around when they built Hanover Hall, you got some help in your department?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Your department had been just you, Coach Brooks, Bill Brooks was doing physical education and coaching. Who were some of the people who came and helped you out? Do you remember?

William Brooks: What, the first people?

Riggins: Yeah.

William Brooks: Some of the first people we hired, first was a young lady, Judy Lewis. And then Earl Allen. Earl was a former, he was a Wilmington boy that played baseball for us. And Dave Miller came in.

Riggins: Right, one of your students.

William Brooks: Right. Well, both of those, Dave and Earl both are students. And Earl had gone to Chapel Hill and finished up. He was a very smart young man, did a good job. And let me see. We started the women's program there in '85, '86, and a young lady, Jan Donohue was hired to coach the women's.

Riggins: One person I interviewed was Calvin Lane.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: He stayed for a good while.

William Brooks: Yeah, Calvin was a good athlete at Chapel Hill. He played baseball and soccer. And when he came down here, he was working in the county schools. And he was hired out here as a fund raiser.

Riggins: Yep. Financial aid.

William Brooks: Yeah. He handled that end of the-- and then he came over. They hired, I think Dave Warner from Peace College for fund raising. And Calvin came over to the physical education department and did some coaching. He coached soccer and he also coached golf.

Riggins: Tennis.

William Brooks: He might have coached tennis, too.

Riggins: Yeah. He did quite a bit. And I noticed _________ looking at the sheet you gave me-- so you coached basketball, of course, as when you were an NAIA, and then Mel Gibson came and helped you out with that. Is that about when he started?

William Brooks: He came one year. He was assistant for one year. It was a situation there where I was hoping he would take over. We'd hired him for that purpose, but when we got around to getting the contract and talking business and so forth, the chancellor or president at that time wanted to wait until it started the next year. So, actually, Mel was there and as much as I could, I turned over to him right then.

Riggins: Right. You had enough going on. So, he took the basketball program. How is he doing? Have you heard from him lately?

William Brooks: Yeah, I talked to him a couple days ago. He's living out here, about 15, 20 miles up at the end of the waterway up here at Slew Point [ph?]. His wife has had a brain aneurysm and has had some surgery. He called me a couple of nights ago and told me that it looks like things are looking up. So, I don't know whether they're going to try to do any more or not. But it was some type of deal the way they work on them now different from what they used to. They run a wire all the way up through the veins into your brain. And it's similar to what they do with the heart, but now they go right on up and into your neck.

Riggins: And then there's a plate, yeah.

William Brooks: Something there that they use a wire. It's a special wire thing that carries a current or something that they can use to stop bleeding of blood vessels. I don't know enough about it hardly to tell you.

Riggins: So he's busy with that with his wife is dealing with that.

William Brooks: Yeah. And he said she was-- there were other times, he said the doctor told him just a few months back, that she would have probably been in there for several weeks in the hospital. This way, she went one day and went home the next.

Riggins: Really? And no infection or anything?

William Brooks: Oh, he was real pleased with that.

Riggins: Wow. Then that's good. I'll wait to call him. I can see he's probably busy with things. And it's interesting with-- you mentioned David Warner. He came on in fund raising also, and then he moved over to physical education; is that right?

William Brooks: He just taught in physical education department.

Riggins: So he taught all the P.E. courses?

William Brooks: He taught mostly what they referred to mostly as academic P.E. courses rather than the activity courses. He didn't teach much activity. But physiology of exercise and anatomy and physiology and some of those courses.

Riggins: Okay. How is he doing? Have you heard from him lately?

William Brooks: I talked with him about a week ago, and poor fellow, he's having a hard time with his equilibrium. And I talked to him the day after he fell again, and he's always stumbling around, falling, and having a hard time there. So, his daughter, of course, lives there, and they try to look after him and keep somebody with him most of the time. They don't like to leave him too long because when he falls he can't get up.

Riggins: So now he's getting around but with some difficulty. So, he's mobile, but he has trouble when he falls. Well, any of us would. Okay, well, that's another person I need to talk to to get some of these stories. So, did you hire a lot of these people as athletics director or chair of the department, when they were telling you?

William Brooks: All those you mentioned so far, I think, yeah.

Riggins: In fact, you'd go to the administration, say, "I need a position," and it was Bill Wagoner or Dr. Reynolds. I'm sure that was tough to try and get.

William Brooks: It was tough there for a while, I'll tell you. After we got Trask Coliseum built, and we had more space and more classrooms and all, it was eased up a little bit then. But, yeah, it was a little tough starting off trying to get-- because everybody needed help. And I could understand but I didn't like it. I could understand it.

Riggins: Sure. What about when the university became part of the UNC system, did that make some changes for you in your department?

William Brooks: I think that's one of the things that really, in the background, put this school on the map (inaudible). And I know I have a couple of granddaughters that live in Raleigh and, in fact, one of them came down here to summer school this year. UNCW is one of the most popular schools in those high schools up there. And a lot of them wanted to come. And I know my granddaughter told me, she said the reason they don't get more is because so many parents probably have been there and been to the ocean, or they hear about the ocean and the beach, and they don't think the two go together.

Riggins: Oh, they don't want their kids to go to school there? Well, I can see that. And a lot of them come for summer school, like your granddaughters. Because it all transfers.

William Brooks: She left yesterday-- not yesterday; she left today, last night, for Italy. She's a junior at Wake Forest and she's just going to go on over to exchange student. And she was down here this weekend, and she was all excited about this new arts building. She's majored in art, and that's where she's going over to Florence, Italy, to take some high-falutin' art school over there.

Riggins: That's the place to go.

William Brooks: So, she's over there with her group from Wake Forest and some from Raleigh that she knew.

Riggins: And you have a daughter who's in the arts; is that correct?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Tell us about her. What has she?

William Brooks: She graduated from here. Well, she majored in performance and music, and she's enjoyed, I think, her music about as much as anybody could. She went down to Miami with the Miami Opera Company, and she left there and went to New York, and she was up there for a while in the opera business. And she met this young man who was a banker up in New York. And they were married. And they live in Vienna, Virginia, now. And she has been with the opera company there at the Kennedy Center a couple of years, and she wasn't with them last year. She's talking about going back this year.

Riggins: She's a very accomplished performer.

William Brooks: She's teaching at-- last year, the second semester they needed, they ran into some kind of staffing problem over at Shenandoah music school, that's a college up there. And she went over there and taught semester three days a week, drive back and forth. And this year, she's going to do it two days a week. She said she enjoys that. They have-- the reason she likes it so well at Shenandoah, they're such good students in music, and so, to teach good students. She's teaching, she's got count of twelve students that she teaches at home. And some of them are good and some of them can't sing a lick.

Riggins: Really? And has her area, even when she was a college student, was she interested in opera? Or did her interest in opera start when she was young?

William Brooks: I think her interest started when she and my wife used to listen to the Texaco Opera on Saturday afternoon.

Riggins: Yeah.

William Brooks: I had to get out of the house, because they didn't want any talking. There was none of that.

Riggins: Really? They wanted to concentrate on it.

William Brooks: My wife enjoyed good music.

Riggins: Was she a musician?

William Brooks: No. She played a little ding-ding, but not much. And my daughter started taking music early, I don't know how early. I used to get up and take her-- she wanted her lessons early, so she's had music lessons at 6 in the morning because she didn't want to mess up her afternoon for other things that they did. She enjoyed music, and she's still enjoying it.

Riggins: That sounds, I mean, that's impressive, quite a career she's having. And now teaching, that's something that's great to do to continue, get other people educated in the field.

William Brooks: Yeah. She enjoys it. She's got it worked out pretty well where she could do it two days a week, and she didn't want to put too much burden on her husband, because he's got a full-time banking job, and he has to do some traveling, too, and they have a ten-year-old daughter. So she has to make arrangements to take care of all that. And horse trades with some of the Mamas and daddies to look after the daughter. She teaches their kids music.

Riggins: Oh, that works out.

William Brooks: And so, she's got things worked out pretty well.

Riggins: Yeah. Great. It's wonderful, we have, of course, the Brooks Baseball Field named after you here at UNCW. How did that come about? Do you recall?

William Brooks: Well, when we moved to this campus, we didn't have any three buildings and no fields, no anything. And we had to go into town to use one of the high schools' baseball field. And we used the gymnasiums at night for our basketball. And so, if we were going to have, you know, baseball, and continue having it, we had to have some workplace to play. We had a man on the board of trustees here, Rayford Trask, and in fact, he owned that land back in there, part of it that he gave to the college or sold it or combinations. But anyway, where those fields are now, it was a cypress swamp is what it boiled down to. And I talked with him about trying to find the area. I had a picked out area back up there where the gallon way was, you know, it was up high. And he said, "Well, if you take that area and try to build it into your field, time you get it built, it's going to be such prime property for dormitories and other buildings, you might as well get you a place where nobody won't bother you." And I said, "Where is that?" And he said, "There." And he pointed at that swamp.

Riggins: Uh-huh. He had some foresight, I guess.

William Brooks: He was also not only on the board out here, but he was also a county commissioner at that time, and he was able to get me some equipment. And there was Regal Paper Company, in fact, they had bulldozers and all that they used for the timberlands, particularly when they were for fire protection and so forth. They had bulldozers and motor graters and all that. And I knew a fellow over there. In fact, I liked to bird hunt and all, and I used to go over there bird hunting a lot with him and got to know the people at Regal. And they helped us out with equipment. So, we were able to clear those fields and get them drained and it took, I guess I worked on those things, never have finished I don't guess. You never do finish a field. But we had starting off, we had enough room for, went ahead and took the whole swamp. We were just going to take the one end down there, but as we needed space, we just kept on. And as we had bulldozers, we used them. And we ended up, it took us about five years to build those fields. But we were able in two years to play baseball out there. And then we got the soccer built and then the recreation area, and so forth.

Riggins: Well, that's made a huge difference.

William Brooks: It's all the difference in the world. And then we got, in '65, we got the Hanover Hall opened up where we had dressing rooms and all for our P.E. department, and this little-- I don't know whether you would even know what they call the field house down there?

Riggins: Yeah, it's named after Green. No, is it Green?

William Brooks: I don't think they named that one yet. That was-- I'd got people in town do donate all the material.

Riggins: Boseman, I think. Did they name it after the Bosemans?

William Brooks: No. Boseman is softball.

Riggins: Oh, softball, okay.

William Brooks: Yeah. But this is a little block house down here across from the baseball field.

Riggins: Yeah, it was just in recent years. Yeah. (inaudible)

William Brooks: Yeah. We got that built by-- they had a fellow, I don't know if we ought to talk about that or not, but anyway-- we had a fellow that I'd go pick up in the mornings and bring out here. And he had other duties around, but we're able to get two or three trustees from the county farm to come out and help. And I don't know, they did that for three or four months and got this building built. And with all donated labor and donated materials and all that. And the upstairs part we put had about 25 beds up there, double-decker beds where we could put up our visiting teams, which made it-- we were able to do a lot of scheduling with good clubs because you got a place to put them and, you know. Travel with baseball is expensive because you've got so many people. You've got 25 to 30 people on the squad. And if you can put a team up and they don't have to pay, they're going to be glad to come in and play you, particularly the _________ teams and the good clubs up that way. So we built that and had our dressing room down the stairs on one side and the visitors on the other side, then the upstairs dormitory. So that was all built along the same time that we built the baseball field.

Riggins: And that's still being used?

William Brooks: They took it last, two years ago, and they made some kind of, I don't know what department it is. It has something to do with the business department or something now. But they're moving out, and Herb Fisher, you know, that was working with the student union, Herb has given the million dollars to re-add onto that old field house.

Riggins: Oh, I did hear that. Oh, that's important to recognize.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Well, that's great.

William Brooks: They're going to build indoor batting cages and so forth and all. I was talking about Herb about it when they had this grand opening over here, whatever it was.

Riggins: You came for that?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Great. Wow. If you don't mind, we're going to take a break and turn off the tape for just a moment. And I still have a couple more questions to ask, if that's all right, or some things I'd like to talk to you about.

William Brooks: That's fine.

(tape change)

Riggins: This is Adina Riggins, university archivist, and today is September 5, 2006. This is a continuation from earlier in the afternoon. I'm very pleased to have a guest here in archives, Mr. Bill Brooks, Coach William J. Brooks. So we started off during the break, I was asking you something about Mr. Trask and the story about how he came to be such a major funder for Trask Coliseum, of course. So, can you elaborate on that, please?

William Brooks: Shortly after we had Hanover Hall, of course, it's not too short of time in there between that and Trask Coliseum, but we were needing more space, and we were needing a coliseum. And I went to talk with, called him and asked him if he was going to be in, and he was up in his office. He had an office up at 4th and Chestnut in that building, I've forgotten the name of it now. But he had an office up there, and I went up to see him, and when I walked in, of course, he said, "Well, now, what you want?" I said, "Nothing a million dollars wouldn't help." And he said, "Hell, we better sit down on that one." And he went over and sat down. We got to talking. He asked what I was talking about. And, of course, we had been talking with the board. He knew that there was some talk going on about we're needing a coliseum. And the way the state was operating at that time, they probably still are, a certain amount of the space, if you're going to use it for athletics, you've got to come up with money for it. If you're going to use it for classroom work and academic work and all, you can use state money for that, but you can't use state money for the athletic portion.

Riggins: I didn't know that.

William Brooks: So I talked with him about that. And, of course, he knew that already. Anyway, we just went ahead and talked about it. But what I'll always remember was when he said, "Hell, we better sit down on this one." And so, he was a mighty fine man, and he also helped us later on when we built this, after we got the baseball field built and was playing in it, we needed a press box, so we needed a grandstand and so forth. So he made a nice contribution to build the concrete stands out there. And between the land that he was involved in and going this way and the coliseum and then the baseball, he put a lot of money in this place.

Riggins: Definitely, and what was his feelings about that? He just felt that the university was supporting to the region and he wanted to back it?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: That's something. What about Dr. Cahill? He's the one I have interviewed as part of this program. How did you work with him? I'm sure you had to work with him.

William Brooks: I worked with him real good. He was always, he was an athlete back in his college days, and he was very interested in athletics, and he was one I'd always thought I had to have some help for something, I'd go see him first (inaudible) see how he felt about it and so forth. He did a lot of good things in helping us. Not only with people about money. He and Rayford were real good friends. And we did a lot of fishing together and Rayford enjoyed fishing, and they'd call us all the time to come on go fishing. And a lot of things we'd talk about on that boat riding back and forth.

Riggins: Doing some business, huh?

William Brooks: Things that later on paid off. But I think Dr. Cahill, he went to some of the meetings with us and the conference meeting, and he wanted to know what was going on and get involved. He liked to be involved in it. Each year at the conference, CAA, once we got into that and all, we had athletic directors' meetings and the presidents usually would go or send a representative. Dr. Cahill always went from here, because we'd end up having the meeting and go play golf, and he liked to play golf, too. And he fit in so well with all the athletic people. He knew what athletics was about, and sometimes you run into a situation where people don't have any idea what it's about. It's kind of a sad situation.

Riggins: Right, trying to get the message across.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Well, it's true, and it must have been helpful and interesting to have him in the provost office and sort of him an ear for you.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: But I know he's done a lot for this university, that's for sure.

William Brooks: In our staffing of the athletic department, the physical education department, it was real important that he knew, you know, he knew what was going on and knew what you have to pay people, and all those type of things. Well, we would have had a real tough time without him in there.

Riggins: Yeah, so he did a lot for your programs.

William Brooks: Yeah, he did.

Riggins: What about Dr. Crews? I know he was very involved in everything on campus. Was he involved in athletics? Marshall Crews?

William Brooks: Marshall was not as much of a--as far as getting right down to brass tacks of X and O and then athletics and so forth--but he was for the program. There were times when, of course, he had a lot to do with the disciplinary part of the school, and every once in a while, we'd run into a problem where he'd have to get involved in. But he was always very helpful, and he was always for the athletic program. Most of the problems and all that we ran into, and over that many years, you're going to run into a few problems, Marshall would always kind of take the lead for the administration to take care of it, to see what we had to do to take care of it. And there were times when we had one of the best athletes in the country here, and reached a point that you just go back your bag and go home. We don't need you anymore. I mean, Marshall knew when you had to do something and when you maybe could work around it. And sometimes, there's boy's that's gotten problems and they work it out and it turned out good, and they go ahead and finish school. I know I was talking to a boy a month or so ago. This group of boys that come down here every year, get a condo in Brunswick County and play golf for about three days. And I was thinking about that group, that most, I guess, loyal to this school of any group that I know of, and about half of them kind of got in problem, end up had to have a little help to get out. And they have really stuck with this. They started a scholarship program.

Riggins: So they're all alumni?

William Brooks: Yeah, they're alumni.

Riggins: And they started a scholarship for an athlete or for-- it's a scholarship for a student athlete?

William Brooks: It's for a student athlete. And in fact, they started it and they put it in my name, and they all of them donate to that particular one. It's a pretty good scholarship right now. That's the one, when I give something, I usually put it in that, too. So, they were boys, most of them are from up in Virginia.

Riggins: What sports did they play?

William Brooks: Basketball and baseball, all that group. And some of them are from North Carolina. There's a couple up here, one at Beulaville, and one at Mount Olive, and then we get up to Charlottesville there, and _________ Virginia, Danville, maybe about 14 to 15 of them. One of them lived in New York now and the other one lived in Oklahoma. And they still come down here.

Riggins: They still get together. Well, that says something. And so you often have to work with people like Dr. Crews, or especially Dr. Crews, when these issues arose, maybe with their academics or with other issues.

William Brooks: Right.

Riggins: You have to be able to-- and some faculty, I suppose, didn't really want to.

William Brooks: Well, some faculty people--

Riggins: Negotiate.

William Brooks: Feel like that athletics ought to be somewhere else and education here and the two don't mix. Of course, we've got all kinds that just have different reasons and different thoughts about athletics and how good, you know. But I think it's real, real fortunate here, the people we've had. I say "we" and I know I was fortunate to have Dr. Crews and Dr. Cahill and Bill Randall, in particular, he was all for athletics.

Riggins: Was he? That's something I haven't heard. I mean, I can imagine. Was he an athlete himself?

William Brooks: I don't think so. But his wife, she went to all the ball games and all the baseball games. She'd sit out there.

Riggins: She was a fan?

William Brooks: She was a real fan, and she'd drag him down there. Of course, how much he really enjoyed it, I don't know. But he knew that the people around town liked it. Baseball has always been a sport in this part of the state, it's always been up around the top, the baseball part. That's one reason why we started the baseball back then, because we had people who wanted to play.

Riggins: They were interesting, there were people interested.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: But I know there are some other faculty who are always interested in athletics and thought there was a real important role for athletics in higher education like Michael Bradley in psychology.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Did he help out?

William Brooks: He did. He was one of those that-- we didn't have good travel arrangements. He'd take his car and take a load of players here or there. We went out to the national tournament there, and he showed up with all the cheerleaders.

Riggins: Otherwise, they wouldn't have come.

William Brooks: They wouldn't have been there. But he was always such a help. Any time you needed something, you'd know exactly how to come up with it. He knew how to help you get it.

Riggins: That's amazing. He brought the cheerleaders to the baseball tournament?

William Brooks: I think that was a basketball thing that he was-- he probably took them-- he went to some of the baseball, too. Usually, you don't have cheerleaders in baseball.

Riggins: That's true.

William Brooks: They have been some places that we have been that the cheerleaders did show up, I mean, for their home team and so forth. But for basketball, I think we were-- I believe we were Hutchinson, Kansas, the national tournament where he showed up, came up with that whole group of girls.

Riggins: That's amazing.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Wow. That's some dedication, you know, and that's something that is not written down anywhere, and it's not in our occasional records in the archives, so that's why it's so good to get a record of it here from your memories. But Dr. Crews is someone I want to interview, because again, we have an interview from a long time ago, but, how is he doing? Have you talked to him recently? I remember you went to-- do you remember about a year ago there was a gala honoring him with the alumni association for Dr. Crews?

William Brooks: Yeah. I remember that.

Riggins: Have you heard from him since then?

William Brooks: I talked with him, hadn't been too long ago. What in the world was the occasion? Must have been something out here, or maybe it was-- I don't know exactly how he's doing right now. What was it? Something about him that I was-- I'll think about it. But this is one of these, when I get home I'll think about it.

Riggins: Yeah. When did you retire?

William Brooks: In '91.

Riggins: '91. So you're here for 40 years basically. You started in '51?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: Until '91.

William Brooks: I had 45 years for retirement. Back then, they'd give you, if you went in the service, they give you service time. And then I had two years before, when I first, you know, school.

Riggins: In the schools.

William Brooks: So I ended up with 45 years when I got through.

Riggins: That's a long time. Well, by the time you retired in '91, or even now, looking back, what are you most proud of when you think of this university?

William Brooks: Well, I don't know. I started to mention this a while ago that I always felt like that Wilmington and the people here wanted a school bad enough, and you know, when we first moved out here, I talked with an awful lot of people with my hand out, with a hat out, begging, and very (inaudible) turned me down on anything. I wouldn't ask people for something I know they couldn't give. But I just always felt good that this place would grow and would amount to something someday, and I used to think about, the nearest four-year school from here is a hundred miles. Well, these people got to go to school somewhere. And I used to think about it along that way. Campbell was up there a hundred miles. St. Andrews was a hundred miles. East Carolina was about a hundred miles _________. And so I used to kind of think of that way. And we had some good people here that could help and did help and probably will continue helping. Because right now, like my granddaughter that was down here this summer, she and her roommate from Wake Forest came down here and they would both pack up from Wake Forest, move down here right now if they could, if the parents would let them.

Riggins: Really? Yeah, so your granddaughter's from Raleigh?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: So she was ready in coming here? But she chose Wake Forest?

William Brooks: The other one is-- I have two granddaughters and sons-- she's a year older, and she's a senior at Davidson this year. And she went off some kind of something she was involved in-- campus crusade type thing down at Myrtle Beach for the summer. She spent the summer down there with-- she's been a counselor for the dormitories. Last year she was a counselor for freshman girls. She said she never knew that there were so many dumb girls. (laughing) In some of the things that they ask and know. She said, "Boy, they hadn't had anybody help them."

Riggins: (inaudible) Yeah, they needed help.

William Brooks: They needed help. But she's back there this year. She's finishing up this year. I think she's going to law school next year, up at George Washington. My son carried up there the other day, a week or so ago. And he worked with Senator Helms for a few years up there and knows his way around, you know, up there, so he wanted to carry her up and take her around.

Riggins: And see some sights.

William Brooks: See what was-- so, I think that's probably what she's going to do. I asked her, I said, "What you doing?" She's majoring in political science last time I asked her. So I said, "What you going to do with that political science degree?" She said, "Oh, I don't know," she said, "I might be your first woman president."

Riggins: Sounds like she speaks her mind. Sounds like she's outspoken and confident.

William Brooks: Yeah. She's a good girl.

Riggins: And your son is enrolling, he's what's this organization?

William Brooks: North Carolina Family Policy Council.

Riggins: Right, he's the chair of that?

William Brooks: I think in his office up there now they have about probably eight or nine, eight or ten people that work up there. And they have one lady that's a lawyer that's hired there. They spend a lot of time with the legislature and trying to get anything that's good for the family or bad for the family, they're going to be involved in it to see if they can.

Riggins: Well, it sounds like you enjoyed this community and you found a home here and you found the support for your work in the community, like you were saying, there was lots of good people to support the university. So that makes a huge difference. I guess that's why you've chosen to stay here in your retirement.

William Brooks: Yeah. I've enjoyed Wilmington, and I don't know what I would look for. There's two or three places I have visited that I might consider. The only town I would ever consider, I think, going to is San Diego. I really enjoyed San Diego, what little bit in my life enjoy that. But I don't think there's any other place I want to go. At one time, when we were first married, we'd talked about maybe living in Florida. But after being down in Florida a couple of times, I don't particularly want to be in Florida.

Riggins: Too hot for too long?

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: It's hard to deal with that. It's hard enough here.

William Brooks: That's the truth.

Riggins: You know, it's so hard. I think of people who work outside when it's so hot in summer. I really can't imagine. It's a challenging thing. Well, there's a lot that we covered here. I'm trying to think if there are some more people, because I know you knew so many people, and that helps with bringing up the memories. What about Bill Wagoner? Did you get to know Dr. Wagoner?

William Brooks: Yeah. He wasn't quite as interested in athletics I don't think.

Riggins: As Cahill?

William Brooks: As Cahill and Crews. I wouldn't say he didn't like it, but he just didn't get as involved in it. I think probably he had the right attitude toward it because he had so many faculty members that had different attitudes towards athletics, he couldn't be too much accused of...

Riggins: Right. That's true. And he could just delegate a lot of that to Dr. Cahill and take care of his other business.

William Brooks: Right. So that's kind of what he did with Dr. Cahill. There for a while, I was reporting to Dr. Wagoner and then he later on, he just said, just take your business in there with Cahill, and he kind of turned it over to him. So, which I thought was a good move for him to make because he didn't have the time that it was taking to-- I remember one trip he made. We went to Richmond to a meeting up there. He was more interested in hurry up and let's get through and go home. I mean, he had other things.

Riggins: Right. So much other stuff.

William Brooks: But we stayed up there a couple of nights and a couple of days. And I think we've been fortunate that we've had the good people to back our programs and all.

Riggins: It's made a huge difference in the success of these programs.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: For example, in baseball, our team continues to excel and we've had such high rankings, you know, recently, going to the NCAA tournament, winning the conference in baseball, we just did that this year, and we've done it in past years.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: And then we go to the NCAA tournament. And I just feel like it must have its roots in the program that you developed.

William Brooks: Well, one thing that we've been able to do-- I said we; I don't have anything to do with it anymore. But one thing that we've been able to keep people in the program that know the program and know baseball and have a good idea of what it takes to get good players and so forth. But we've been-- Mark Skav [ph?], Mark played here. He was one of our players and two the assistants that he has down there now, all three of those coaches know what it takes to run a good program. And one thing that I'm real proud of the coaching staff on not being afraid to work to keep the fields up and all. That's one of the most important things that you can have. A good baseball player will go to a school to talk to somebody about baseball, they want to see the field, they want to see what it looks like, how it's kept and all. And Mark and his coaching staff down there, they've done an outstanding job of getting the players involved. There's nobody in particular hired to keep that field up. They do it themselves.

Riggins: Really?

William Brooks: And they have one man that helps them, you know, drive a tractor here and there. But as far as if you went down there and watched a baseball game, you'd see, when that thing is over, nobody runs to the dressing room. They all go-- they got a job to do. They got about 15 minutes and you take 30 people 15 minutes.

Riggins: And get a lot done.

William Brooks: Get a lot done. And that's the way it's been kept up all along.

Riggins: It's the tradition. That's great.

William Brooks: And the appearance and all, I think that just about everybody comes in has talked about how good looking a field it was, how well the grass is kept, how it's cut. And one of the coaches says he wouldn't let anybody else mess with that grass but him. You know, when it got-- I don't even know how you go one way, it changes the color, you know, you see it?

Riggins: Oh, okay, yeah, the patterns.

William Brooks: The patterns and all on it. I don't even know how to-- I never knew that.

Riggins: Uh-huh. But he's into it.

William Brooks: But the Jackson fellow, one of the pitching coaches, he does all of that. But I think that that, from the baseball standpoint is, we've had good baseball here in the high schools, and the legion teams in the summer time. You've got two teams, one at Carolina Beach, and one at Wilmington. And all those good players get a chance to play. So, mostly, I think it's just that it goes with, once you get something rolling and it's easier to keep it rolling than it is to stop and start.

Riggins: Right to try and change, if there are some bad habits or bad decisions.

William Brooks: Right.

Riggins: Yeah. You have to build up from not such a high level. But that's to your credit. It's very impressive. Speaking of baseball, you mentioned before the interview started that David Miller, who was one of your student players, you encouraged him to go on for his doctorate; is that correct?

William Brooks: Yeah. They had a situation back then. That was in '65, '66, that we didn't have enough PhDs around here, or you know, doctors of whatever. And we had this deal with the state where you could apply and get so much help with scholarship, and I remember Earl Allen, I was talking to Earl about it. He said, "I can't go get a doctorate degree." I said, "Well, you can stay around here and we can clean up after all these doctors after they come through. You can help me do that, because I can't go get one either." He told me later, he got to thinking about that. So he and his wife and both kids, they took off and took a year off and went down to Florida State.

Riggins: This is Earl Allen?

William Brooks: Earl Allen. And then the next year, Dave went. And Dave, it wasn't hard to talk him into it. I think he planned on his getting one all along because he's a pretty sharp fellow that knew what he wanted. And he went down. And the baseball coach down at Florida State was a fellow, Jack Stallings, had been at Wake Forest. I knew him from Wake, Wake days. And he took Dave on as assistant coach down there and paid him and, you know, all that helped him.

Riggins: Right. Helped financially.

William Brooks: Helped financially above the scholarship.

Riggins: That was a good opportunity. And then he became chair of the department after you?

William Brooks: Yeah. That was a part of the deal. When he got his-- somebody was going to take it because I just had to get rid of it. I couldn't-- being athletic director and chairman, and I was still teaching two classes. It was just more than I could do and then coach baseball and basketball.

Riggins: My goodness. How many hours were you out here? A lot more than 40.

William Brooks: Yeah. I don't know. But it was a tough-- you know, it's a funny thing when you look back. Some of the best years that we had in athletics as far as winning were also the years that we had less to work with. When you go looking at those first few years out here, I think in the baseball, we won the championship the last six years that we were in baseball in a junior college. That was when we moved out of here. And basketball, we won, went to the nationals the last two years, then got knocked off in the finals I think the year before that. But we had more championship teams, more players make all-American and all that during those years when we didn't have a gym, didn't have a field.

Riggins: You barely had money to cover your scholarships.

William Brooks: Yeah. And so it's funny how that works out sometimes.

Riggins: Yeah, actually, Calvin Lane spoke about that, too, that, you know, with soccer, he led them to, you know, positions in the top national (inaudible) 20, (inaudible) talk about they didn't have resources or, you know, competing against folks with more resources.

William Brooks: Yeah.

Riggins: So it takes a lot of work, a lot of dedication. And maybe that comes from the personal feel of being with a small school and really feeling like you're making a difference.

William Brooks: It was a lot of, back when we started off there, and of course, money was totally different than what it is now anyway, but I can remember we'd go off on a trip and we'd give them a dollar for meal money to stop and eat on.

Riggins: Each student would get that?

William Brooks: We'd give them a dollar apiece or two, and then they finally got a little more. But you know what you could get for that dollar in Charlotte at the McDonald's? They used to have 12-cent hamburgers. You can take a dollar and eat all the hamburgers you want.

Riggins: Right. And have some left over. My goodness, wow.

William Brooks: Some of those boys talk about that now.

Riggins: Right.

William Brooks: Some of them old-timers.

Riggins: Well, that reminds me, are you involved in the alumni relations? And also, before we touch on that, you've been honored as the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and also the UNCW Hall of Fame, the Athletics Hall of Fame; is that true?

William Brooks: Well, that's what they tell me.

Riggins: So, that's quite an honor.

William Brooks: They were the Junior College Hall of Fame. They inducted me in that back in '90 I think.

Riggins: Junior College Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame.

William Brooks: Yeah. That was the year I got accused of starting a war with Europe there. I went out to the Hall of Fame meeting in Colorado, and they had this basketball all-star team, that went over to Europe and over to Yugoslavia, and I was with the group to carry them. They had the coaches that were coaching, and I was-- I don't know what I was, the gopher, I guess.

Riggins: No.

William Brooks: But, anyway, I went out to Colorado to that Hall of Fame meeting. I had to leave there that night after the meeting and drive to Denver to catch a plane to get to Dulles Airport at sunrise, get on a cab and go to another hotel, meet the team.

Riggins: In Yugoslavia?

William Brooks: And then we went to New York and then went to Yugoslavia.

Riggins: Oh, from there to New York. Okay.

William Brooks: And I didn't know a whole lot about what I was supposed to be doing, and in fact, I wasn't even going to go with this thing in Colorado. But anyway, it worked out with where I did go. Each town that we went to to play basketball, they'd have a little luncheon or get-together with the town mayor or whatever they call them over there. They had people. Each place I was supposed to have some kind of toast. So, Jim McGowen. You know Jim?

Riggins: Yes, yeah. Did he go?

William Brooks: His wife was from over there. And I had asked Jim beforehand if he would let me know something about where I was going and what to say or something. He said, "Well, I'll write you out something." So he wrote me out all these little toasts. And so when I got there, the first two or three luncheons we went to, he had it marked, and so I'd pull them out and look at them. And they asked me to have it written out so I could give it to the interpreter. So, that worked out fine because I could read it and then hand it to them. So we went, about the fourth or fifth day up there, we were over in Croatia. And I guess they probably had about a hundred people at that meeting. And these other meetings I had been to, whenever I'd read the toast, they'd all clap and all. At this one in Croatia, we went over there, and I read the toast. It wasn't a sound. And I didn't know what to do, and so I just handed it to the lady that was sitting there to pass it on up, and she read it back, and then finally somebody did one or two or three (clapping). And I asked them, when they got through, I asked the fellow that was our host there, I said, "Did I say something wrong? Or what happened?" He said, "You sure did. You talk about these Croatians and living with the Serbs." He said, "That doesn't happen over here." And you know, that's who started fighting by the next week.

Riggins: Oh, so you had a toast about getting along with the neighbors or peace.

William Brooks: Right. I told Jim McGowen when I got back, I said, "You just about helped me start a war."

Riggins: You must have felt terrible. What an accident, yeah. Oh, my goodness. You don't remember the toast exactly?

William Brooks: I might have that thing at home. I don't know.

Riggins: That's all right. But it was about the Croats and the Serbs?

William Brooks: Right, about those two living together and peace and harmony and something to do with the sports programs, how much the sports programs have meant with the exchange and so forth. That man said, "We don't have nothing to do with those blankety-blanks."

Riggins: No. No. They weren't ready for that. Well, that was a global education, I suppose. Yeah.

William Brooks: I was wondering when we went over there, we flew into Yugoslavia and went down and the airplane, instead of going to the terminal went way back down to the end of the runway, as far from the terminal as you could get, and the bus came down to pick us up. And I asked about how that didn't seem right. But there was so much friction going on then, but they were afraid somebody might take a shot at the plane or something, because the United States was not the most popular people in the world.

Riggins: This was in 1990, right around...

William Brooks: In 1990.

Riggins: Right around Desert Storm or Desert Shield, I suppose, yeah.

William Brooks: So, anyway, we got on our bus and went up to around the terminal or on the backside and was picked up in cabs and carried to the hotel. But we weren't exposed to too much there.

Riggins: Right, well, that's probably good. That's good. Now, I don't want to keep you too long, but I would like to thank you for coming in. And you've continued to be involved in the alumni office; is that correct? Do you occasionally get to alumni events?

William Brooks: Occasionally I try to go to them.

Riggins: See some of your former players?

William Brooks: Yeah, some of the players and all that we have, particularly that group that comes down in the summer each year. That group may grow a little bit more; I don't know. They were talking about it. Right now we have, I think it was 16 this year. And they were talking about maybe doubling that. And if you get somebody who wants to come that would enjoy doing it and enjoy playing golf and being involved and not somebody to come just because they feel like they're wanting to come, it could grow into something.

Riggins: Oh, yeah. Well, I think that would be good, you know. Always good to grow a group more. Well, I would like to thank you very much for coming in. This was very helpful to me.

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