published Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Brooks resigns as Red Bank volleyball coach

Red Bank head coach Christel Brooks addresses her team during a Region 3-AA volleyball championship match against East Hamilton.
Red Bank head coach Christel Brooks addresses her team during a Region 3-AA volleyball championship match against East Hamilton.
Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Red Bank High School volleyball coach Christel Brooks has resigned her coaching position, citing a desire to spend more time with family.

Brooks' daughters Kalyn and Ansley Helton played volleyball for her at Red Bank. Kalyn will be a junior on Lee University's team next season. Ansley will start college next year and Brooks also has a son, Cooper, who is 2.

"If you're going to coach, it's time-consuming to do it right," Brooks said. "I just felt like I needed that time for my family."

Brooks started the program at Boyd-Buchanan in 2000 and by '03 had the Lady Buccaneers in their first Class A state sectional. They were state-tournament participants each of the next two seasons.

Brooks came to Red Bank during the 2006-07 school year, then spent her first season on the Lionettes' bench in the fall of '07 as an assistant to Susan Thurman. That season turned out to be Thurman's last season as head coach, although the now-retired Thurman was athletic director then and hired Brooks as the next head coach.

Under the guidance of Thurman and Brooks, the only ones to coach Red Bank as a TSSAA sanctioned sport, the Lionettes never have had a losing volleyball season.

"I stepped into a gold mine of tradition," Brooks said. "Just to be able to work under her for a year, I was like a sponge and tried to absorb everything I could. There was some pressure to keep things going, and that made me work harder. We went to the state tournament every year I coached there. Every year she's been there the whole time through postseason. She told me, 'I'll be your biggest fan,' and she has been."

In Brooks' five consecutive state-tournament appearances as Red Bank's head coach, the Lionettes finished third twice -- the first time in Class AAA. They were Class AA runners-up in 2010 and won their first championship in '09.

"I knew she was a good coach because of what she had done at Boyd-Buchanan," Thurman said of Brooks, whose 425-141 career record includes a 229-68 mark at Red Bank. "I saw the way she interacted with the kids, especially taking the ninth-graders and working with them like she did. I just knew she'd be perfect for the job. As things worked out, I think I made a great decision.

"She did everything I hoped she would. I couldn't be happier for her success. I can only hope her successor will be as successful as mine was."

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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