LB Derrick Brooks (bottom middle) took a group of students to Africa as part of his remarkable Brooks' Bunch program
On Wednesday, February 13, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS) will hold its annual Giant Steps Award Banquet. The setting for this important event: Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
That's a fitting location, as the honorees at the ceremony represent a remarkable cross-section of the enormous world of athletics.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, one of the most dedicated community workers in the National Football League, will be on hand to accept the NCAS' Civic Leader Giant Steps Award, but that's only the beginning of an impressive guest list. Joining Brooks will be pro basketball Hall of Famer Julius 'Dr. J' Erving, Columbine High School graduate and softball star Amber Burgess and high school football coaches Herman Boone and William Yoast, the real-life inspirations for the movie, "Remember the Titans."
Boone and Yoast will receive the Giant Steps Coaches Award for their integrity and commitment to coaching, while Burgess will accept the Courageous Female Student-Athlete Award. Farleigh Dickinson University soccer player Dirceu Hurtado, who survived a near-fatal aneurysm and went on to lead his team to their first conference title, will be named the Courageous Male Student-Athlete. Dr. Richard Astro, one of the founder's of the NCAS, will also be honored.
It's a rather remarkable mix of athletes in which Brooks finds himself, but it's a group brought together by a common bond – a commitment to educating student-athletes and providing the skills necessary for success in all areas of life. Their approach to a position in the high-profile world of sports is in keeping with the NCAS mission: 'To create a better society by focusing on educational attainment and using the power and appeal of sport to positively affect social change.'
That has been a goal of the Bucs' sublime linebacker almost from the day he arrived in Tampa in 1995 as a first-round draftee. As Brooks' football has climbed to more impressive heights every year – he'll play in his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl later this week – his 'Brooks' Bunch' program has reached out to more and more area youth.
Through his program, Brooks helps to shape the lives of young people in Tampa by providing them with educational programs and enormous incentives to stick with the programs. In recent years, he has organized and sponsored end-of-the-year trips to Washington D.C., Atlanta, the American West and even Africa for dozens of teenagers in his program. Brooks leads every trip but also makes regular visits to the program throughout the year; his is very much a hands-on approach.
In honoring Brooks, the NCAS says, "As a result of his passion and dedication for the personal development of youth, as well as his outstanding performance on the football field, Derrick is admired by his peers and children alike."
On February 13, Brooks' peers in Orlando will include Dr. J, the famous football coaches at T.C. Williams High School and two of the most courageous student-athletes in the country. Now that's impressive company.