Trailblazer Coach Kenny Brooks builds legacy at Virginia Tech

Coach Kenny Brooks has earned the respect from his team, the university, but just as important — other coaches around the nation.

“I love Kenny,” said Ohio State Head Coach Kevin McGuff. “He’s a great guy and a really good coach. We have a good relationship.”

“Hat’s off to Virginia Tech,” said Tennessee Head Coach Kellie Harper. “Obviously, they’re playing great right now. They came in and played their game.”

Brooks has been an effective leader for the Hokies during his seven year tenure, creating more than just wins and new heights for a once struggling program.

“He just has crafted everything and stuck by his vision and what he wanted no matter what other people had to say or whatever and I think that’s so valuable in a leader,” said Hokies center Elizabeth Kitley.

And that same desire and passion to make a difference in the lives of those around him, has helped Brooks shape a new refreshing outlook on who he is and the change he can truly make.

“I think I have a little bit of credibility now, a little bit of equity, that I can go say some things that would help people that look like me,” Coach Brooks said.

The people that look like him are few and far between in the women’s game. In 2021, South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and Arizona’s Adia Barnes became the first Black female coaches to reach the Final Four.

To follow that, in 2022 Staley became the first Black coach, male or female, to win multiple national championships. Her vow to use her platform to uplift inspired Brooks.

“It meant everything because there’s some rhetoric out there that men don’t belong,” Brooks said. “There’s actually some prominent people saying that they would never hire a male.”

When it comes to the Power 5 conferences, Kenny Brooks is the only Black male head coach in division one women’s basketball.

“I think that responsibility falls on my shoulders some, and I accept it,” Coach Brooks said. “A couple years ago I wouldn’t have. I think with all the social injustices that happened a couple years ago, my responsibilities were to my players to teach them about racism, Black kids, White kids. During that time, I really opened myself up.”

Now as the Hokies’ chase for the championship takes them to Dallas, win or lose, Kenny Brooks’ voice will be a game winner, even beyond the final buzzer.

“There are a lot of great male Black coaches who deserve an opportunity and if people can look at me and see what I’ve done and that inspires them to give another Black male an opportunity, then my job is well done,” Coach Brooks said.

About the Authors:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.