Although attributing her team-leading 32 steals to a mixture of athleticism and aggression, Caprica Brooks credits her other success to being a more mentally complete player.
Brooks first saw playing time at Howard Payne University less than a year removed from her final game at Copperas High School in 2015 and steadily saw increased playing time until becoming a regular starter her senior year, to her signifying her development as a player and as an aspiring member of law enforcement.
“It was the coaches. They came in and hooked me and told me what the team was built around,” Brooks said. “Coming from Copperas Cove, I didn’t have my mom. She died when I was in high school. Growing up with my grandmother, and having women coaches, they picked up that mother role I didn’t have in my life. That and (HPU) being Christ based.”
When Yannick Denson took over coaching duties in 2018, Brooks said he quickly took on a father figure role and she has thrived under his leadership, recently tying her career high of 14 points against UT-Tyler earlier this month. Along with her team-leading 32 steals, Brooks is near the top of the leader board in rebounds (second, 104) takeaways (second, 49), field goals (third, 45) and scoring (fifth, 122).
“Coming from my freshman year to my senior year, it has been a drastic increase in playing time,” Brooks said. “It’s something I had to work my body to get used to – conditioning and mentally staying on top of things. With steals, it’s my athletic ability because I think I’m a little faster than most folks. Coach Denson is always telling me to wait on the pass and use my athleticism to the best of my ability. Fast breaks and stealing – it all comes in handy.”
With Saturday’s come-from-behind 67-63 victory over McMurry, the Lady Jackets won two out of their last three games and Brooks said that has her team confident heading into the final stretch. At 3-6 Howard Payne ranks third in the American Southwest Conference Western Division and will need to maintain at least fourth place to qualify for the conference tournament.
“We stay focused on what’s coming next and then focused on what’s down the road when it comes,” Brooks said. “We’ve become more confident within ourselves in how easy it can be to get there. If we’re worried about everything all at once, it can be overwhelming and we can psych ourselves out. [The win] changed us a lot mentally. We were pointing fingers. We just had to calm down, soak it in and take what we could from our losses to apply what we could to win. That helped us.”
Once the 2018-19 season wraps up, Brooks said she hasn’t decided whether to pursue her master’s in criminal justice or go ahead and enroll in a police academy and begin her career in law enforcement. Brooks said many of the lessons she plans to take into her career in law enforcement she learned on the hardwood.
“It’s helping other people — putting others before yourself, making everyone around you better. Picking up others around you helps you out, but the end goal is to help everybody,” Brooks said.