Sparkman’s First Family Of Volleyball
HARVEST- Husband and wife Jesse and Lanora Brooks along with their daughter, Jasmine Brooks, are Sparkman High’s “First Family of Volleyball.”
Jesse and Lanora are in their fourth season as head and assistant coaches of the Lady Senators while Jasmine is a senior All-State player for the squad that is currently ranked No. 5 in the latest Class 7A state rankings and sporting a 20-7 overall won-loss record.
“We all enjoy our situation and as for me and Lanora coaching, we work well together and get to spend some quality time together as we bounce ideas between us and then come up with our plan on coaching the team,” said Jesse, who is officially the head coach of the Senators.
A married couple for 20 years, Jesse and Lanora have three children. Besides Jasmine, they have a 22 year old and 13 year old. Jesse is a physical education teacher at the school while Lanora works as a contracts specialist on Redstone Arsenal. They began their travels into coaching volleyball at Meridianville Middle School where Jesse was a teacher for 11 years.
When they first took the coaching position, Jesse is quick to point out he knew very little about the sport as he was an All-State high school and college basketball player. Meanwhile, Lanora played some volleyball in high school, but she was also an All-State player in basketball. They both made their way to play at Kentucky State. It was at the university Jesse and Lenora first met. They dated for two years before getting married in 1998.
Since taking over the program at Sparkman the team has found winning ways after years of losing seasons. “We have the program into a mode of full of discipline and established the correct work ethic,” said Jesse. “We included better strength and conditioning and made the program more structured and help our athletes to understand the sport better than they had before.”
“My high school coach introduced me to volleyball and in college I was chosen an alternate player as I had an injury and went through a medical redshirt season,” said Lanora. “I traveled with the team and soon figured out I wanted to coach volleyball.”
Jesse and Lanora spent many hours reading books and volleyball and watching videos on the sport. They attended coaching clinics and soon felt they knew how to coach and get the most out of their players.
“Playing for my parents is sort of natural for me as I do not receive special treatment even when I can get an attitude with them,” said Jasmine who has committed to Tennessee and is expected to sign her scholarship with the Volunteers in November. “I have helped my parents in the areas of coaching as I tell and show them things I have learned from club team coaches and camps I have attended.”
Jesse and Lanora’s relationship with Jasmine is as good as you will ever find between parents and a high school student-athlete as they all get along on the court and at home. They discuss the previous match while traveling in the car and at home.
“When I was hired by Sparkman I immediately told the administration my wife was going to be my assistant coach and the school has been very supportive,” added Jesse.
The Senators feel they have the talent to progress to the State Tournament with Jasmine, an All-State selection a year ago as a junior. In her three years with the team, the 6-foot-1, 175-pound outside hitter has posted 1,066 kills, 578 digs and 264 blocks. She is a force to be reckoned with and is expected to lead the team that began the season with two starting sophomores. The squad is No. 1 in the area, which includes Huntsville, Grissom and Gadsden City. Jesse said if his team can advance through the perennial talents of the three other area schools, the state tournament is a very strong possibility.
“Having a player like Jasmine makes our jobs easier as she’s a hard worker, intelligent and is doing things I’ve never before seen in a high school player,” said Jesse.
Lanora added about their daughter, “It’s special to see how her game has changed as she’s amazing to watch. Not just as a parent, but as a coach, too.”
Growth with the sport is how the entire family feels of the experiences they have enjoyed together as a volleyball family. Will Jesse and Lanora continue coaching after the departure of their daughter? “We haven’t really thought of it at this point,” added Lanora.
Coaching with her husband they’ve never had a problem said Lanora, who added, “Fifteen years together on the court and all is good. We talk at home about our coaching duties. For us, it just works.”