Brooks ‘15 wasn’t your typical ISKL athlete. He was always interested in competing in IASAS at least one before he graduated. But actually, Brooks never made an IASAS in his two years at ISKL. He was busy. He did do cross country which kept him fit, however his sights were set elsewhere. He was determined to be a division 1 rower in the United States.
Before moving to Kuala Lumpur Brooks lived in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His family had been there 7 years and Brooks was rowing at the highest level in the country while attending Central Catholic High School.
Central Catholic was best known for their renown football team but the one sport people continued to forgot was rowing. High school rowing in the United States is as big as football but without the recognition. Rowing is a sport that requires strength from your whole body and is incredibly strenuous. Brooks wasn’t the largest guy on the team. In fact, he was the smallest but with the toughest heart.
“Everyone had the same rowing experience as everyone else in the beginning of high school. The 4 years of high school was spent to see who was really good enough to compete at the highest level”. That was motivation for Brooks as he was a small guy playing a big man’s sport.
The average division 1 rower is anywhere above 6 feet tall. Brooks was only 5 feet 6 inches so he had a lot of work ahead of him. He worked hard his two years at Central and was able to make one of the highest level boats on the team. This was an incredible feat as Central was the number one team in the country at the time. “We were fast and motivated”. Brooks’ final year at Central led to to team traveling Oak Ridge, Tennessee to compete in the national championships.
Brooks wasn’t on that boat but he was one of the alternates which made him qualified to be there. The boat that Brooks was an alternate for went on to win the national championship as the fastest crew in the country. To also put this in perspective, “there were 5 guys on that 8 man boat that were rowing division 1 including rowing at Ivy League schools (considered top division 1 programs),” Brooks stated.
Brooks was only a Sophomore and he was almost on that top boat. The other 3 guys on that winning boat were underclassmen who are currently rowing division 1. It was only fitting for Brooks to row at that level in the near future until he moved to Kuala Lumpur with the rest of his family.
“Southeast Asia was quite weak compared to the US. Most of the work had to be done on your own. If you wanted to row in college, dedication and hard work needed to be done by the individual”.
Brooks was desperate to keep up his rowing in Malaysia. He was able to find this small club in Putrajaya and his journey continued once more. Brooks was able to accomplish a lot while rowing in Putrajaya. He gained recognition and was invited to practice with the Malaysia National team. During these times he rowed on their boat in international races and had opportunities to travel as well.
In 2014 Brooks and three other men competed in the prestigious Australian Henley in Melbourne, Australia. “This was the closest competition to the US so it was awesome to compete. At this point Brooks was in contact with a few division 1 schools. His times on the rowing machines dropped but that wasn’t stopping him. He toured Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, New York. He fell in love with the school and the rowing program they offered. Hobart is a division 1 rowing program but they haven’t been as successful as the other top programs. Brooks understood that he wasn’t as good as he used to be so he took the chance and committed his college decision to Hobart. Following that, Brooks finished his year in Malaysia competing and winning medals until he graduated from ISKL.
“The bar of rowing is raised significantly in college. Every day at practice you are treated like it’s your last day on the team”. These are words Brooks and his fellow teammate shared while rowing at Hobart.
Brooks is now a Sophomore at Hobart, rowing and assistant coaching. Brooks has been part of a team that has won its conference for the last 11 years. “The friendship is stronger in college because you are living, practicing, and suffering with the same guys 6 days a week”.
Brooks wasn’t that star IASAS athlete, instead he went his own route. He led his own journey, striving to achieve his goals.