As a 1979 graduate of Cherry Creek and a fixture on the Bruins’ bench since 2002, many were surprised when Mike Brookhart announced his resignation as the school’s boys basketball coach in March.
And even more were surprised when Brookhart subsequently accepted the coaching job at Denver West, a program that, heading into this winter, had five coaches in the past five years and just one winning season in the past dozen.
But as Brookhart explained, he felt it was time for a change, even after guiding the Bruins into the Great 8 in his final season.
“I had been a Cherry Creek an awful long time, and I thought there needed to be a change not only for me personally, but for the program,” Brookhart said. “Sometimes, you can get a little bit stagnant and a little bit too comfortable, and so sometimes change is good for the coach as a person and for the program. But I love Cherry Creek, and I’ll always be a Bruin.”
Brookhart stepped into a major rebuilding project with the Cowboys, who have started the season 0-5 but are showing promise of a turnaround. Senior guard Sammy Terrones is the centerpiece for Denver West, which is still in the process of embracing the “competitive spirit” ethos that Brookhart preaches.
“They’re really good kids, and I really like being at Denver West. There’s been great support from the administration, and we’re just trying to establish a competitive spirit,” Brookhart said. “We’re going to work hard to do that, and we want to do things right both on and off the court. That competitive spirit is not just important in basketball, because it’s something you can carry over from basketball onto college, and then onto your profession.”
Brookhart notes he’s proud of the way his team has been playing in practices and games out of the gate, and if the Cowboys can keep that intensity up, they’ll start to see their efforts rewarded in the win column. Denver West’s ultimate goal this season is to beat the other 4A teams in the Denver Prep League, as well as to hang tough with the conference’s top-tier 5A teams Denver East, George Washington and Far Northeast.
“We’ve got to learn that games are won in practice, they’re won in the classroom and they’re won, a lot of times, not when games are actually played,” Brookhart said. “Winning if just a byproduct of everything you’ve done outside of game day.”