Walking into Coach O’Connor-Brooks’ office the other week reminded me to keep everything in place during second semester. We lightheartedly discussed golf, life, and the future. Walking away from these conversations with Coach O, I always feel more collected. Graham O’Connor Brooks has been more than an educator and coach in my life. And I know I’m not the only one.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know GOBS, to which I refer to him as, over the past four years. Maybe his relatable nature stems from him being just 10 years removed from high school as he understands what it means to be a high schooler perhaps a bit more than some other educators or coaches in the school. Yet, everyone who comes into contact with O’Connor-Brooks loves him, be it through his deep devotion to Camp Hope, golf, basketball, or the Special Education program at the high school.
For myself and many others, Coach O’Connor-Brooks has been influential in shaping me into who I am today. Every fall throughout high school, I have had Coach O’Connor-Brooks to mold me and shape me throughout the year. As a small, impressionable freshman with O.C.B. as my coach, he quickly became my idol. Listening to what he said and taking it to heart (even though at times I wouldn’t show it), he taught me more than I anticipated. Our relationship has continued ever since freshman year. When Coach talked about golf or life, I listened. This year–especially to fellow senior captain of the golf team, Scott Frevert, and I–O’Connor-Brooks was essential to our success. One day in particular sticks out.
Varsity was able to go practice at different courses around the community. But Scott and I were bothered about the team dynamic, so we returned to Lake Bluff to talk with Coach O’Connor-Brooks. When we talked, coach would listen to us. He didn’t listen to us just to get us to stop talking. He would listen because he cared about our success and the way we felt. Coach O’Connor-Brooks stayed and talked with us at length after his practice to help us talk through the this predicament.
This year especially, we wouldn’t have earned second in state without O’Connor-Brooks. Being in his first year of being the head coach of the JV golf team, Graham played a heightened role on the varsity team. He became an assistant to the golf team under coach Matheson and his presence was felt all year. Each player on our team would tell you the essential role that Coach OCB played over the course of this year. He would come up to us on the course and help guide us through a situation. Scott Frevert had this to say about O’Connor-Brooks’ presence at state, “Having the pleasure to spend the majority of the state tournament with GOB helped me with club selection, but more importantly he helped me stay loose. Walking up the fairway we would talk and joke around. He knew the distinct balance between focus and keeping me loose.”
While I can only talk about Coach O’Connor-Brooks on the golf course, many of my peers echo similar excerpts about Coach O’Connor. Senior basketball captain, Sean Trkla, said this about his sophomore assistant coach, “He is a great situational guy, who in the moment calms you down and gets you in the mindset.” Whatever sport or activity Graham is involved in, his presence is felt by everyone. His unique ability to connect with high schoolers has allowed him to be a mentor to Scouts students and athletes. He is always there to help talk you through a tough decision on the course and a difficult situation in life.
To everyone in the Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Knollwood communities, Mr. O’Connor Brooks, Coach O’Connor, or to some, GOBS, is more than a coach.