By Mason Nesbitt
For The Signal
Master’s baseball coach Monte Brooks recently awoke to a text message from a former player.
“Thanks for faithfully representing the Master,” Rob Avila, an NAIA All-American in 1999, typed out, attaching a link to an important announcement.
Brooks was named an American Baseball Coaches Association Ethics in Coaching Award winner last week. The national honor goes each year to as many as two coaches who teach life’s lessons and model honesty, integrity, respect and personal responsibility. One of last year’s winners was Tim Corbin, who twice has led Vanderbilt to NCAA Division 1 national titles.
For Brooks, who will be honored during the 2020 ABCA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, the award is part of a higher calling.
“The motivation stems from loving the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind, and being a servant,” said Brooks, who has guided the Mustangs to four NAIA World Series appearances and last season won his 700th game. “It’s about building the scriptures into the program to where these guys understand their real identity is in Christ and baseball is a part of their life and an opportunity to put Christ on display.”
Over the years, Brooks has fostered numerous close relationships with players like Avila. It’s a part of the profession Brooks learned from his father, Mo, a longtime high school baseball and football coach in Idaho. Brooks remembers his dad inviting former players over to play chess or to join a slow pitch softball league. “I loved the lifelong relationships he had. I really cherished that,” Brooks said.
Brooks took over as head coach at The Master’s University before the 1997 season. His vision was “to help develop and train young men in baseball, and, obviously here at Master’s, to equip godly men.”
To accomplish that, Brooks holds regular Bible studies with his players and twice has taken them to the Dominican Republic on missions trips. He hopes to prepare his players for family, church and community responsibilities after they leave TMU.
Aaron Shackelford – a 14th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates this summer – can attest to Brooks’ success in this area.
“I’ve had a lot of coaches in the last few months and many before I got to college,” said Shackelford, who hit an NAIA-best 36 home runs as a senior for the Mustangs in 2019. “There is none who models Christ and lives their faith daily like Monte. He truly cares for his players and wants to see them grow in Christ far more than he wants to see them succeed on the field. He is a leader of leaders.”
Nick Jorgensen, who played for Brooks and has returned to TMU as an assistant coach, agrees with Shackelford.
“When I read the description of this award, Monte was the first name that popped into my head,” Jorgensen said. “His unwavering faith, love and obedience to Christ is played out in the way he coaches. People ask me all the time and I say, ‘He has the heart of a pastor, the platform of baseball, and is exceptional at meshing the two.’ His passion is God’s Word, and he is a great model of how a follower of Jesus should conduct themselves.”
Brooks emphasized how thankful he was to have been employed at Master’s for more than two decades, allowing him to interact with hundreds of student-athletes at crucial points in their lives
“These players have been a major part of my life,” Brooks said. “You’re with them a minimum of nine months, and some of them four years. They are one of the greatest joys of my life and the alumni continue to be a great support, investing in our program in various ways.”
Sometimes, it’s as simple as a congratulatory text message.
This week at TMU
- TMU men’s soccer will host Marymount California University on Thursday at 4 p.m. Marymount California received votes in the Sept. 11 NAIA Top 25 poll.
- Mustang women’s volleyball is home for two Golden State Athletic Conference matches this weekend. Master’s plays Hope International at 7 p.m. on Friday. Life Pacific University, which features Trinity Classical Academy grad Hannah Caddow, comes to town Saturday for a 7 p.m. match.
- Women’s soccer will play UC Merced at TMU on Saturday at 11 a.m.
For more information on Master’s Athletics, visit GoMustangs.com.