Cookes, Brooks success all in the family

This is the last in a twopart series introducing this year’s six Rockdale Sports Hall of Honor inductees. The public is encouraged to attend the induction banquet Friday, Oct. 25 which will be held at the high school cafeteria beginning at 4:30 p.m. The honorees will then be recognized at halftime of the Rockdale Navasota game later that evening. A ll for one and one for all,

My brother and my friend,

What fun we have,

The time we share, Brothers ‘til the end. —Author unknown.

No time is that quote more appropriate than at this year’s Rockdale Hall of Honor ceremony, where a special set of brothers left their mark on the Tiger athletic program will be recognized.

Two on thei r own, the oth- er two as a team.

Tony Brooks

Just because he was down, doesn’t mean he was out.

Ken Esten Cooke (left) and Kevin Cooke still account for the only state championship in tennis in RHS history. Ken Esten Cooke (left) and Kevin Cooke still account for the only state championship in tennis in RHS history. Tony Brooks (RHS ‘85) harvested three gold medals at the state track meet, including two in one trip on one magical day in 1985.

Brooks proved he was the best hurdler in the entire state of Texas by sprinting to wins in the 110-and 300-meter hurdles, leaving his competition to watch in amazement.

His 36.44 clocking in the 300s was the third fastest time in the nation in 1985 and it still stood as a state record in the year of his induction, 2013, almost 30 years after the feat. His school hurdle records still stands as well.

To reach state in the 300s, Brooks had to overcome a spill he took at regionals, get up and play catchup to place second.

Brooks also grabbed a gold in the 300s the previous year after he stumbled after the final hurdle and then dove across the finish line to nip rival Bobby Jack Goforth at the tape. He was also third in the 110s as Goforth grabbed the gold.

He was also a standout football player, joining the Tiger career list with 2,145 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. He turned in one of the top performances in RHS history with 238 yards and four touchdowns against Caldwell in 1983. His 97-yard kickoff return against Caldwell in 1984 set a school record that has not been bested.

He was selected first-team all-district as a running back and defensive back and was named All-Centex as a defensive back.

Brooks had 27 scholarship offers to play football from the likes of Nebraska, Texas A& M, Ohio State, USC, Iowa, LSU and Tennessee. He chose to play at TCU where he was a three-year letterman.

Donny Brooks

Donny Brooks made the state track meet his own personal playground.

In three trips to Austin, in three different events, Brooks (RHS ‘88) captured two gold medals and a bronze at state in the 110-meter hurdles. He was also fourth in the long jump.

His senior year, Brooks defended his 110-meter hurdles championship, while grabbing a fourth in the long jump. He claimed his first gold medal in the 110s as a junior and in his first trip to the state meet as a sophomore, was third in the 110s.

At the time of his induction in 2013, Brooks is the only male Rockdale athlete to make three trips to the state track meet.

Brooks led the Tiger football team in rushing, receiving, kick returns and interceptions his senior season and was named first-team all-district.

Brooks played football for Texas Tech where he was a three-year letterman and played in the Senior Bowl. Brooks best moment came against Baylor in 1991, when in a driving rainstorm, he recovered a fumble in mid-air as 20th ranked Baylor was about to tie the game in the 4th quarter and returned it 99 yards for the winning touchdown as the Red Raiders claimed a 31-24 victory in Waco.

He received the J.T. King Award as the Red Raiders most improved player in 1991.

After college, he was then signed as a free agent with the Chicago Bears.

Ken Esten Cooke

Because of his efforts as a singles player and as part of a dominating doubles team with his brother Kevin, Ken Esten Cooke has made the name Cooke synonymous with tennis excellence in Rockdale.

With his younger brother Kevin, Ken (RHS ‘85) captured the Class 3A state championship in doubles, annihilating weary opponents along the way.

At the time of his induction in 2013, it remains the only state championship in tennis in RHS history.

As different as tennis players as they were in personalties, the brothers teamed up to become one perfect tennis machine, disposing of opponents in makeshift time.

After dropping their opening set at state they captured six straight sets including a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Aransas Pass in the semifinals and a 6-3, 6-1 win over Marble Falls in the finals.

Cooke had made it to state the previous year as a singles player, finishing in the top four. He also led the Tigers to a third place finish in team tennis.

His career singles record was 50-8 and his doubles mark was 26-6.

He went on to play tennis at Odessa College and was ranked as high as 34th in the nation.

Cooke came full circle and as publisher of The Rockdale Reporter, covered Tiger athletics with award winning stories and photography. He also continued to mentor young tennis players in Rockdale and played tennis himself on a regular basis.

Kevin Cooke

Kevin Cooke, along with his brother, Ken Esten Cooke set the standard when it comes to tennis in Rockdale, which no one has yet to equal.

In 1985, Kevin (RHS ‘86) and older brother Ken teamed up to nab a state championship in Class 3A doubles, and did it in convincing style.

“It was a tremendous level of intensity and team work and they took charge of the net,” said Rockdale tennis coach Rick Spencer. The duo claimed a 26-6 record that year.

Cooke, who earned his first trip to the state tournament in doubles the previous year as a sophomore, led the team tennis squad to a third place finish in 1985, capturing seven of his eight matches.

He was 19-5 as a singles player his senior year and finished third at regional.

At Rockdale, he also played football and basketball and ran on the cross country team.

Cooke, who passed away at age 40 in 2008, played tennis at Temple College and graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso.

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