She’s far away, but far from forgotten.
Arlington Martin girls basketball coach Brooke Brittain, a first sergeant with the 366th Military Police Co., is having to miss the 2017-2018 season while on deployment in the Middle East.
Despite the distance separating her from her players and coaching staff, Brittain’s impact is evident whenever the Lady Warriors take the court.
“They’re seeing that she will literally put her life on the line for everybody, and I think that’s why this team has such great leaders is because of her,” interim coach Bethany Gonzalez said. “And that’s been one of our values since I played here, and nothing’s changed.”
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The team’s experienced leaders miss Brittain, but they never go long without hearing from her through video chats or inspirational texts.
“She actually texted me and Meagan Graham and Haley James, the other two returning seniors, on game day,” senior guard Tatum Henderson said. “She texts us like that all the time. She texts us funny jokes and things.”
I always tell her she’s going to be better than me in no time.
Deployed Martin head coach Brooke Brittain on interim head coach Bethany Gonzalez
Gonzalez, who played for Brittain at Martin in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, is in her first year on the Martin coaching staff. But Brittain has full confidence in the young coach. In fact, Brittain has made it a point not to interfere with Gonzalez’s leadership of the team.
“Our interim head coach is a former player of mine, and I’ve been waiting to get her on staff since she graduated,” Brittain said in a Facebook message. “I always tell her she’s going to be better than me in no time. She may prove that year one if we can compete for a district championship.”
Gonzalez appreciates the steady support she receives from her mentor. Brittain has helped with advice and information and even watched film of several upcoming opponents.
“We talk almost every day,” Gonzalez said. “She watches some film for me when she can. That’s kind of where we’re at right now. She’ll do more film work once we get deeper into the season.”
Henderson, the team’s lone returning starter, is helping Gonzalez maintain Brittain’s teaching techniques and terminology.
“It’s been awesome to say, ‘Hey, can you teach this to them?’ because she knows the wording to say, the wording the girls know,” Gonzalez said. “She leads on the court and off the court in any way she can, and she steps up and makes big plays.”
One of those big plays came in a recent home game against South Grand Prairie when Henderson was bowled over by a hard foul on a buzzer-beating shot attempt. Unfazed, Henderson brushed herself off and sank both foul shots.
Brittain’s not surprised by this Martin team’s ability to perform in the clutch. The coach is excited about the squad’s mix of experienced and young talent.
“The program has a perfect balance of character and leadership at the upper class levels combined with some of the most talented and excited underclassmen we have ever had playing varsity,” Brittain said.
Martin football coach Bob Wager fully expects that the Lady Warriors will continue to succeed on the court just like they have done in previous seasons under Brittain.
“I think they’ll play hard not only for the coaching staff that we have in place here, but also to honor our coach as she honors us,” Wager said.
Brittain’s service and self-sacrifice isn’t just an inspiration to her players, Wager said. All Martin students have learned from her example.
“I believe it’s a shining example of teamwork,” Wager said. “It’s an example, not only for our girls basketball program but for all of our students at Martin High School, to admire and respect the sacrifices that Coach Brooke Brittain makes to defend our country. She is a hero in our book, and I think that’s a fantastic model for us to follow.”