Kyle Brooks and Jimmy Tuominen promote positive coaching; Ron Rakoce of Battle Ground to be inducted into Hall of Fame
Kyle Brooks completed his comeback.
He got back to teaching. He returned to the sideline.
After all that he went through, he knew he needed at least one more school year, one more basketball season, before stepping aside.
So there he was during this bizarre year, when the basketball season started in April and ended in June, the head coach of the Prairie boys basketball program. Alongside him, naturally, was his longtime assistant coach and close friend Jimmy Tuominen.
It was Coach T, as he is known, who kept the Prairie basketball program going while Brooks was in the fight of his life back in the winter of 2019-20.
Brooks was in the hospital, on a ventilator, stricken by Guillain-Barre syndrome. His immune system was attacking his own nervous system.
Tuominen visited Brooks in the hospital. Brooks could not speak, but the two found a way to communicate.
“He just reassured me of the Prairie Way, and that we’re just going to continue doing that. It gave me peace, to know that it was in good hands,” Brooks said of the basketball program. “It was really hard, but it made you feel good knowing your assistant is that in-tune and you don’t have to worry.”
Tuominen recalled taking over as head coach on an interim basis.
“How do you share the information with the kids, but try to keep them in a place to continue the season, to play at a high level, and to honor (Brooks) and play the way he wants us to play?” Tuominen asked.
Together, the Falcons did compete just as Brooks would have wanted them to, and they represented their school and community.
Tonight, the Washington Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association will celebrate Brooks and Tuominen as the recipients of the Pat Fitterer “You Gotta Love It” Award for positive coaching.
“Any time you get recognized by your peers, it’s a pretty special honor,” Brooks said. “The WIBCA does a great job of promoting basketball. It’s a real special honor.”
The WIBCA is holding its Hall of Fame banquet for the west side of the state Thursday night in Edmonds.
Also being honored is Ron Rakoce of Battle Ground. He is being inducted into the coaches Hall of Fame. The former girls basketball coach led the Tigers to three state placings, then was an assistant to Butch Blue for 23 seasons, helping the boys basketball team to eight state appearances, including a state title.
Tuominen said being able to share one more moment with Brooks as coaches will mean the world to him.
For Brooks, he was compelled to return for one more season. He didn’t want to end his coaching career with just a memory from the hospital. So he pushed himself with rehabilitation to make it back. It was worth it, but, he said, he is not fully recovered. It was time to retire.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s bitter knowing I’m going to miss it, and I already miss it,” Brooks said. “Also, it’s sweet because it’s the right time for me to check into a new season in life and see how it goes. For now, I’m going to focus on healing.”
Look for Brooks to spend more time with his wife Jane. And playing golf is, indeed, part of rehabilitation.
“Jane and I trust in the Lord,” Brooks said. “I’m thankful to have been able to come back. I got to coach for another season. That was the most important thing. I really enjoyed it. I’m going to miss it.”
Note: Most of this story comes from WIBCA’s program for the banquet. Paul Valencia of Clark County Today was asked by the WIBCA to write the story on Brooks and Tuominen. Since the story was written, Tuominen has been hired as the head coach at Prairie, officially replacing Brooks.