Brooks develops into First Team All-SWC middie
Matt Brooks developed into an artful dodger in lacrosse.
Brooks' ability to move in between defenders helped the Weston boys lacrosse team win the SWC title and make the Class S semifinals. He hopes he'll have a chance to contribute for the Stonehill College men's lacrosse team.
In recognition for his contributions to Weston's success, he earned First Team All-SWC and Second Team All-State honors and played in the Senior All-Star game.
"It's pretty awesome, and I wasn't expecting it," Brooks said. "If anything, the whole team should have received the honors because I wouldn't have gotten it without my teammates."
Junior year, Brooks was an All-Patriot Division selection.
Although Brooks never picked up a stick until eighth grade, he was a four-year varsity midfielder. Offense was his primary focus, and he also saw some time at attack when his teammates were out.
"Midfield is the position for me, and I love it," Brooks said. "It's a fast-paced position, and it fits me perfectly."
He first picked up a stick through the encouragement of his older brother Ken Brooks, who graduated Weston in 2011.
The younger Brooks realized he had speed when he first began to play but didn't take advantage of his dodging ability at first.
"I always had problems with dodging as a freshman and sophomore because I didn't do it as much, but once I grew into my body, it's something I became good at," Brooks admitted. "My coaches encouraged me to go where the opponent isn't."
Once Brooks made dodging a major part of his game, he became an offensive catalyst.
"It came natural to me," Brooks said. "I credit [former Weston] coach [Alex] Whitten and [assistant] coach [Josh] Thornton, and it was a matter of getting over the initial fear of the ball being taken away from me and going for it. From there, it was all about practice."
Trojans coach John Mathews said, "He's an athlete. I think his wresting skills have helped him with his dodging. He's very shifty and has a great first step. It was Matt's time to step up. Having a player like Jack Scheufele play with him took some pressure off of him. He can shoot great with either hand."
Sometimes, Brooks fired a shot. He possesses a reliable touch and scored often from eight to 10 yards out off dodges and catch-and-shoot plays.
"The majority of my goals came from dodges up top," Brooks said. "I also go to the net, and if I'm not open, I pass it to either Jack [Scheufele], Lyle [Mitchell] or Sean [Fumai]."
On how he developed his shot, Brooks said, "I get the shooting part down pat by taking a bucket of 100 balls and shooting it after school. [Former Trojan] Coach [Brendan] Carney had a ritual of throwing 100 balls off the wall, bouncing them back and catching them. The same goes with shooting."
Brooks is deft in finding the open player near the goal, which led to many assists.
"We spent countless drills in practice passing to the side," Brooks said. "Coach Mathews should be credited with our stick skills. He also helped us cut down on unnecessary mistakes of throwing the ball away."
Going after loose balls is another tenet in Brooks' game. He came up with his share of ground balls through grit, determination and hustle.
"Wrestling helped me with that," Brooks said. "It helped me get low and push the opponent off the ball."
Before the 5-10, 153-pound Brooks began playing lacrosse, his sports involvement consisted of recreational basketball and soccer. After playing for the Trojan laxmen during the spring of his freshman year, he decided to give wrestling a try his sophomore year.
In his three years on the mat, Brooks excelled in the 145-pound and 152-pound weight classes. Senior year, he placed fourth at 145 at the SWC championships.
"I credit my success to my coach Mario Federici, who is arguably the best coach I ever had," Brooks said.
Leadership is a strength of Brooks as he was a wrestling captain during his junior and senior years. He led both by example through his work ethic and verbally by encouraging his teammates.
"I was grateful to get the position as a junior," Brooks said. "Even though it put me in authority of leading older kids, it prepared me to be a better captain senior year. I learned a lot about being a leader junior year."
Academically, he took AP science to go with many honors course. AP biology was his favorite subject.
"It's all about knowing your priorities and what to do and not hesitate," Brooks said. "My parents told me to get my work done early, and I was able to buckle down."
At Stonehill, he will major in computer science. If his plans work out, Brooks will start a club wrestling team in addition to playing club lacrosse.
In order to play both sports for the school in Easton, Mass., Brooks knows he'll have to raise his game to the next level.
"It's going to be a whole new experience, it's a level up from high school, and it will be a lot more rigorous," Brooks said. "Having the responsibility of going to practice every day and balance it with school and a social life prepared me for college. College sports are challenging, and I see challenges ahead of me. Every goal has fears on the other side, and if I meet the challenges head-on, I'll conquer the fears."
Mathews said, "I think Matt could play at the next level albeit club or a varsity team. He's only been playing the game since eighth grade. If he works harder and establishes a better lax IQ he will be one of the best on his club team for sure."