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Johnson joins Thomson High athletics staff

The Thomson Bulldogs started football practice last week, and with the 100-degree heat the most important man, uh, person, on the field may not have been the starting quarterback or even the head coach. Brooks Johnson is the new athletic trainer at THS and brings with her a variety of experience from training rooms and football fields across Georgia and the south.

ths_trainer1.jpg

Thomson High Trainer Brooks Johnson pumps up players' helmets during practice last week.

Brooks' start in athletic training came about due to the encouragement of her father Alton Bentley. Coach Bentley has coached at various Georgia high schools since 1980. He and I were high school teammates when he quarterbacked the 1974 Lincoln County team to the state championship game. We then started our careers together at Jenkins County and moved on to Screven County in 1984. I can remember when Brooks was born and her mother was my daughter Ashley's babysitter a year later.

My, how time flies.

Coach Bentley was on the Thomson staff with Coach Welsh during his first tenure here and followed him to Camden County in 1991 and later to Greene County. He then moved to Northwest Whitfield in Dalton, and he is currently on the staff at Westover High in Albany. It was at Northwest Whitfield where Brooks first found herself on the practice field with her father.

"Daddy carried me to practice to keep an eye on my younger brother, Curry, and he knew I wasn't very competitive, so he made me a trainer," Brooks said with a laugh. "He sent me to training camps at every major college in the south. When he and my stepmother went on vacation to Williamsburg, Va., one summer, he even left me at William and Mary."

So at the age of 12, Brooks began her journey toward becoming a certified athletic trainer. Upon graduating from Northwest Whitfield in 2001, Brooks enrolled at Valdosta State University. At the time, Valdosta State had the only program in the state for certifying students with the major of Sports Medicine/Athletic Training.

ths_trainer2.jpg

Brooks Johnson works on a helmet.

"I really received a lot of training at VSU by rotating not only through schools, but doctor's offices for practical experience," said Brooks.

Brooks served not only as a football trainer, but worked with the women's basketball team as well. She was a member of the 2004 NCAA Division II national football championship team at Valdosta State. She cites her senior year apprenticeship at gigantic Hoover High School outside of Birmingham, Ala., as maybe her greatest opportunity to gain experience.

"Hoover was so big and had so many teams that everyone called it Hoover U. It seemed as if every time a bus pulled off from campus with a team, I was on that bus," she recalled.

Upon graduation Brooks accepted the position of assistant athletic trainer at another athletic powerhouse, Lowndes High School in Valdosta. She also married B.L. Johnson, a Thomson High School graduate, and quickly realized that their schedules were going to make things difficult.

B.L. was working in retail business in Tifton, and Brooks was again riding busses through the south Georgia night taking care of Lowndes athletes. They decided living in the front of the pack of a giant rat race wasn't what they had in mind.

"We had a whole 36 hours off together last Christmas and as soon as we got here to visit we had to go back," Brooks lamented. "We decided then to look around, and B.L. landed a job in sales at Hoover (Treated) Wood Products in April, and I was lucky enough to get the Thomson High job, so here we are."

Living in Thomson is obviously a great location for the Johnsons as B.L.'s parents and grandparents live here, Brooks' mother lives in Evans, and both of her grandmothers and other relatives live in Lincoln County. Ironically, right after visiting Brooks, I ran into B.L.'s mother, Janice, and she was all smiles about having her son and daughter-in-law living right around the corner.

Brooks teaches health at Norris Elementary School, before assuming her duties at the high school. She has found a way to follow through on her father's lead in a role that he and I never would have dreamed would become so vital. Back then, our giving a kid a half-hearted ankle-taping job was about the extent of athletic training.

I guess Brooks turned her dad into a real visionary.

The Thomson Bulldogs started football practice last week, and with the 100-degree heat the most important man, uh, person, on the field may not have been the starting quarterback or even the head coach. Brooks Johnson is the new athletic trainer at THS and brings with her a variety of experience from training rooms and football fields across Georgia and the south.

Brooks' start in athletic training came about due to the encouragement of her father Alton Bentley. Coach Bentley has coached at various Georgia high schools since 1980. He and I were high school teammates when he quarterbacked the 1974 Lincoln County team to the state championship game. We then started our careers together at Jenkins County and moved on to Screven County in 1984. I can remember when Brooks was born and her mother was my daughter Ashley's babysitter a year later.

My, how time flies.

Coach Bentley was on the Thomson staff with Coach Welsh during his first tenure here and followed him to Camden County in 1991 and later to Greene County. He then moved to Northwest Whitfield in Dalton, and he is currently on the staff at Westover High in Albany. It was at Northwest Whitfield where Brooks first found herself on the practice field with her father.

"Daddy carried me to practice to keep an eye on my younger brother, Curry, and he knew I wasn't very competitive, so he made me a trainer," Brooks said with a laugh. "He sent me to training camps at every major college in the south. When he and my stepmother went on vacation to Williamsburg, Va., one summer, he even left me at William and Mary."

So at the age of 12, Brooks began her journey toward becoming a certified athletic trainer. Upon graduating from Northwest Whitfield in 2001, Brooks enrolled at Valdosta State University. At the time, Valdosta State had the only program in the state for certifying students with the major of Sports Medicine/Athletic Training.

"I really received a lot of training at VSU by rotating not only through schools, but doctor's offices for practical experience," said Brooks.

Brooks served not only as a football trainer, but worked with the women's basketball team as well. She was a member of the 2004 NCAA Division II national football championship team at Valdosta State. She cites her senior year apprenticeship at gigantic Hoover High School outside of Birmingham, Ala., as maybe her greatest opportunity to gain experience.

"Hoover was so big and had so many teams that everyone called it Hoover U. It seemed as if every time a bus pulled off from campus with a team, I was on that bus," she recalled.

Upon graduation Brooks accepted the position of assistant athletic trainer at another athletic powerhouse, Lowndes High School in Valdosta. She also married B.L. Johnson, a Thomson High School graduate, and quickly realized that their schedules were going to make things difficult.

B.L. was working in retail business in Tifton, and Brooks was again riding busses through the south Georgia night taking care of Lowndes athletes. They decided living in the front of the pack of a giant rat race wasn't what they had in mind.

"We had a whole 36 hours off together last Christmas and as soon as we got here to visit we had to go back," Brooks lamented. "We decided then to look around, and B.L. landed a job in sales at Hoover (Treated) Wood Products in April, and I was lucky enough to get the Thomson High job, so here we are."

Living in Thomson is obviously a great location for the Johnsons as B.L.'s parents and grandparents live here, Brooks' mother lives in Evans, and both of her grandmothers and other relatives live in Lincoln County. Ironically, right after visiting Brooks, I ran into B.L.'s mother, Janice, and she was all smiles about having her son and daughter-in-law living right around the corner.

Brooks teaches health at Norris Elementary School, before assuming her duties at the high school. She has found a way to follow through on her father's lead in a role that he and I never would have dreamed would become so vital. Back then, our giving a kid a half-hearted ankle-taping job was about the extent of athletic training.

I guess Brooks turned her dad into a real visionary.



Web posted on Thursday, August 10, 2006













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