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Brooks' Bunch Goes to College

LB Derrick Brooks' ambitious series of trips with his Brooks' Bunch will take an educational turn this year, visiting three or four college campuses…Plus, Brooks aids' Just Play program


The Brooks' Bunch takes a hike in the Grand Canyon during their 2000 Wild, Wild West trip

They've toured the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods National Monument and the Challenger's Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles.

They've been to Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, Soweto, the Motswari Game Reserve, Swaziland and Robben Island, where former South African President Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in prison fighting apartheid.

They've seen the Supreme Court, the FBI building, the Smithsonian Institution, Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial.

So what's next for Derrick Brooks and his well-traveled Brooks' Bunch? College, that's what.

On Tuesday, Brooks announced his plans for the newest installment of his remarkable series of out-of-town trips with the Brooks' Bunch: a tour of three to four colleges. One of those schools will definitely be Brooks' alma mater, Florida State.

Since he first took a group of Brooks' Bunch students across the bay to St. Petersburg, the Buccaneers' Pro Bowl linebacker has steadily increased the ambitions of his annual trips, visiting Atlanta, Washington D.C., Africa and the American West. The idea behind the increasingly far-flung locales is to make each trip a unique learning experience. As Brooks announced the group's latest destination to this year's prospective travelers, it was clear that education was the central concept.

"Our goal is to help you reach your potential," Brooks told the Boys & Girls Club members in attendance. "I want Brooks' Bunch to be a positive resource for all of you. We currently have five former participants in college and want to help the rest of you achieve that dream."

Following his introduction to the program, Brooks laid out the schedule and objective for the courses that all Brooks' Bunch students must complete to be eligible for the trip.

The goal of Brooks' program is to help prepare every student for life after high school by helping them prepare for the SAT, getting them involved in community service, providing them with life skills such as budgeting and teaching them responsibility by allowing them to take an active role in the trip planning.

The program also has set rules that the students must follow. These include a minimum GPA requirement, a set number of absences that are acceptable, the successful completion of all Brooks' Bunch coursework and the absence of disciplinary problems in school, home and at the Boys & Girls Club.

"I feel that this is a powerful program that changes people's lives," said Brooks. "I know it has changed my life and I like to think that it has changed the lives of some of the kids that have been involved with it in the past. The program is a learning experience with the goal of making the boys and girls better men and women."

The program's classes begin in early December, with the trip scheduled to take place in early June.


Brooks Aids 'Just Play' Efforts

Over 1,800 pieces of used sporting equipment have been collected for disadvantaged youth in Tampa Bay through the Just Play program, due to the help of Buccaneers LB Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Devil Rays 2B Brent Abernathy and Tampa Bay Lightning C Brad Richards. On Tuesday, November 12, Brooks and Richards were on-site, along with 15 youth agency representatives at Lowe's Home Improvement to announce the distribution of the equipment. Harold Jackson of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation accepted the equipment on behalf of the 40 members of the Youth Agency Council for distribution at their youth recreation centers.

The Champions Fund, a new 501c3 national public charity that administers charitable programs on behalf of professional athletes, created Just Play to empower disadvantaged youth to become physically active through the receipt of sporting equipment and to generate awareness for the need for private support for a new equipment and facility refurbishment grants program.

"This was truly a community effort to help collect this much equipment in a first-year program," said Derrick Brooks at the ceremony. Brooks, Richards and Abernathy have committed to support Just Play next year. Officials from the NBA's Orlando Magic were in attendance and will be supporting the program in 2003 with an equipment collection at the TD Waterhouse Centre during one of their home games.

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