SAM Brooks will suit up for the Warrnambool Seahawks tonight.
He knows he won’t play.
Instead, he will watch, support his teammates and wait.
He will hope for a Seahawks’ win, that the side will overcome Horsham Hornets and advance its Country Basketball League (CBL) south-west season win-loss ledger to 2-1.
He’s happy to be a part of the team and trains and warms up with the development side.
But there is nothing like playing.
Brooks finds watching “annoying” and “frustrating” and is desperate to be out on the court.
His wait is almost over, with his return pencilled in for early 2013.
“I can’t wait,” Brooks said.
His long spell on the sidelines was enforced by the most dramatic of circumstances.
In February this year, a quad bike accident on a Minjah farm left Brooks in an induced coma in The Alfred hospital.
He sustained a fractured skull, bruising and bleeding on the brain, a broken nose, a broken bone in his back and bruised lungs.
He was unconscious for three days and, after recovering in a trauma ward, was transferred to the Epworth hospital, where he started his rehabilitation.
Brooks’ rehabilitation program at Warrnambool’s St John of God Hospital is ongoing and he will continue to use it “as long as I feel the need to do it”.
“I do exercise physiology most of the time — that’s just building muscle up again that I lost from it — and a bit of fitness and getting my balance right,” he said.
There is still work to do but, all-in-all, Brooks feels “back to normal”.
“My speech was all right. When I get tired my speech gets a bit slurred and I am a bit harder to understand, but I know what I’m saying, I suppose,” he said.
“I had a big problem with my left side. My left leg wasn’t working very well, so I was always falling to the left-hand side.
“That was the only thing I can remember being really wrong, the only big deficit.
“My balance is still bad. That is what I am working on mainly at rehab, but it’s good enough to walk around and stuff without falling over.
“My memory won’t be as good but it’s not a big problem. Little bits here and there I’ll forget, but not big important stuff.”
Brooks is also taking epilepsy pills after suffering some minor fits early in his recovery.
“I had a couple of minor fits early on when I just got out of hospital, so we told the GP and he just got me on some medication,” he said.
“But he reckons I should be able to get off that at the end of the year.”
The accident changed Brooks’ perspective on many things, including basketball.
A talented forward, Brooks, who turned 17 yesterday, had the opportunity to play Big V division one with the Warrnambool Seahawks in 2010 and 2011.
But Brooks chose instead to play football, first for Emmanuel Hawks and then Old Collegians at junior level.
“I’m not allowed to play football ever again because of my head,” he said.
“I wasn’t happy.”
With football taken away, Brooks said he had thrown all of his energy back into basketball, a sport he’s played at representative level in various age groups.
“I just said I’d take one sport. Better than none,” he said. “I am going for it (Big V) next year.”
Brooks’ father Barry coaches the Seahawks’ CBL side and can keep a watchful eye over his son as he continues his comeback.
Training whenever he can, including free periods from school, the 187-centimetre Brooks is unsure how much game time he’ll get.
“I hope I get chucked back in but he (Dad) will probably try and be careful with me,” he said.
“Everyone is starting to catch up to my size, so I will have to try and be a bit more of a shooting guard now.”
Other opportunities have come Brooks’ way off the court.
He’s coaching a Warrnambool under 14 boys’ side with the help of his father.
“It just got brought up by (junior squad co-ordinator) Craig McLeod. He asked me if I wanted a coaching job and he gave me the boys and I am quite happy with what I have got,” he said.
“I had (an interest) but I guess I was a bit young. I’ve started now after the injury and I am really enjoying it.
“They went pretty well last weekend in Millicent and we’re dropping down a grade this weekend because we were playing a grade up.
“We were 14A up there and we’re playing 14B this weekend just to spread the Warrnambool teams around.”
Brooks is learning the coaching caper as he goes and can see a long-term future in it.
“They’re a fun bunch of boys. I’m really enjoying going out and teaching them new skills,” he said.
“Dad is guiding me a little bit but I am picking it up pretty quickly. I remember him doing it for me.”
Away from basketball, Brooks has returned to school, albeit with a reduced schedule.
The Brauer College year 11 student is doing three VCE subjects — English, maths and physical education.
“I will have to do an extra year of VCE,” Brooks said.
“It doesn’t bother me. As long as I end up getting my VCE, I’ll be happy.”
In the meantime, he’ll use his spare periods to “get shots up” as he continues his comeback.