Brooks Gym lets Buc fans experience game day action up close

Jennifer Hill November 3,2023

Buc fans attending games at ETSU’s Brooks Gym experience a different level of energy, according to one fan who calls the venue her “happy place.”

The game day experience inside East Tennessee State University’s newer sports venues, such as William B. Greene Jr. Stadium for football, Thomas Stadium for baseball and Summers-Taylor Stadium for men’s and women’s soccer, is certainly exciting for Buccaneer fans, with lots of great amenities. Same with Johnson City’s Freedom Hall Civic Center for men’s basketball.

But fans of women’s basketball and volleyball find the “friendly confines” of the historic Brooks Gym a great place to take in a game, too.

One such fan is Janet Stork.

Consider Stork a “superfan.” She attends every game she can for various men’s and women’s sports, and her office in ETSU’s College of Public Health, where she works as assistant to the dean and administrative manager of the Tennessee Institute of Public Health, is decorated with tons of Buccaneer memorabilia. Not only has she collected officially licensed Buc gear, but she creates, prints and displays her own posters of every College of Public Health student on the current rosters of sports teams, the marching band, and the cheerleading, dance and spirit squads.

Janet Stork shares some of the Buccaneer gear and memorabilia she proudly displays in her office in the College of Public Health Dean’s Office.

In fact, Stork was even selected in 2020-21 as the ETSU staff representative on the All-Southern Conference Faculty and Staff team in recognition of all her efforts.

Although Stork attends many ETSU sporting events, one team and its home venue stand out in her heart.

“While you will see me at every football game, men’s basketball game and a few other sports, women’s basketball will always be my favorite because of a family friendship with a special player,” she said. “Brooks Gym is my happy place because of that – it reminds me of that every year.”

Dedicated in 1950, Brooks Gym was once the home to men’s basketball. Today, it holds approximately 2,500 fans in recently refurbished fixed and telescopic bleacher seating.

One of the things that Stork appreciates most about Brooks Gym is the intimacy it affords for the fans.

“You can hear and see all the action up close,” she said. “There is a level of energy that rises up in Brooks Gym that I feel you don’t get at larger venues. You can get to know the team better because you feel a part of the action. You also get to know the other supporters around you, and everyone feeds off each other and the team.”

Stork said she is excited to have Brenda Mock Brown at the helm of the women’s basketball program as head coach. She was glad to see growth in attendance in 2022-23 in the first season under Coach Mock’s leadership and is looking forward to continued growth this year.

“Another great thing about Brooks Gym being smaller is that the children who come are closer to the action,” Stork said. “Our college sponsors Family Day for the last home game of the year, and we invite all kinds of folks, including the community, to attend and bring their children. They get to experience that atmosphere, and they all tell me how much they love watching a game there.

“I even have a ‘thank you’ card hanging on my wall from some kids who came and enjoyed the game,” she continued. “Another family told me that it was awesome that her girls got to see others living their dreams and it inspired them. The women’s basketball team took pictures with them after the game, and I think the closeness we have at Brooks Gym helps make that kind of thing happen.”

The 2023-24 women’s basketball home opener is Saturday, Nov. 11, when the team takes on Lafayette.

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East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911 with a singular mission: to improve the quality of life for people in the region and beyond. Through its world-class health sciences programs and interprofessional approach to health care education, ETSU is a highly respected leader in rural health research and practices. The university also boasts nationally ranked programs in the arts, technology, computing, and media studies. ETSU serves approximately 14,000 students each year and is ranked among the top 10 percent of colleges in the nation for students graduating with the least amount of debt.

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