Bruised and battered, Brockman leaves a legacy of unselfish play
Snohomish grad plays his final game at Hec Ed today, ending an era as it began: in front of family, friends
It's an hour since the game ended, but still lingering in Hec Edmundson are a collection of family and friends waiting for a hug, a hand shake, or just a chance to say hi and talk about the game.
Brockman's parents, Gordy and Becky, are always there, having missed one home game between the two of them over the span of four seasons. The remaining group varies. Some days it's one of Brockman's older siblings, Kirsten, Adam and Paul, or another night it might be his former high school coach Len Bone, his AAU coach Jim Marsh, or family friend Gary Doty, who has helped coach Brockman since he was young. But always, after every game, family and friends are there.
A McDonald's All-American at Snohomish High School, Brockman could have gone to college almost anywhere. His final choice came down to Duke and Washington, but ultimately, it was for moments like these that he decided to stay home.
"The biggest thing was being close to home, being able to share my experience here at the UW," he said. "There are numerous people in Snohomish, around this area -- coach Marsh, Gary Doty, Len Bone, my parents, people who have helped me get to where I am as a player and a person -- I really wanted to share that with them."
Today, as Washington hosts Washington State, Brockman will play his final home game as a Husky. A win on senior day will clinch an outright Pac-10 title for the Huskies, which is about as close to a perfect ending as Brockman and fellow seniors Justin Dentmon and Artem Wallace could have hoped for.
"It's shaping up to be everything I've dreamed of," Brockman said. "I'm really proud of how this group has come together and performed. All of these guys, every single player, the coaches, the managers, everyone has put forth their best effort. As long as we keep doing that, no matter how it ends, as long as everyone keeps working hard, I'll be happy with the results."
Brockman will end his Washington career as the school's all-time leading rebounder, likely as the No. 2 scorer, and he is on his way to a third-straight Pac-10 rebounding title, but he'll be remembered more for grit and determination he has played with throughout his career.
More than any awards or honors bestowed upon Brockman, his battered body tells the story of his UW career.
There's his nose, which has been broken five times during his college career. It starts off heading to his left at a slight angle, and then -- thanks to an elbow somewhere along the line -- it abruptly changes direction back to Brockman's right. His nose has been reset twice, once by surgeons, and once by his own hands -- "It hurt like crazy but it definitely straightened a little bit," he explained.
There's also the scar below his left eye, left over from stitches earlier this season, and the scars and scabs that cover his arms and legs, reminders of battles with opposing centers, power forwards and hardwood floors.
Husky fans will be sad to see Brockman go, but to a degree anyway, his teammates won't miss him.
"They're probably excited that my elbows won't be flying around anymore in open gym in the summer," Brockman said after rattling off a list of injuries he has inflicted on teammates. "That's just the way I play, I guess. I'll take it, but it's going to be dished, too."
Brockman's work ethic and hard-nosed style of play came from a childhood spent trying to keep up with three older siblings. But even more valuable than his work ethic, Lorenzo Romar said, is Brockman's leadership.
"He means far more than anyone would ever imagine," Romar said. "When you think of Jon Brockman, most people think of his hard-nosed rugged play and his ability to rebound. But they don't see Jon Brockman in the airports, they don't see him in the locker room, they don't see him rallying the troops together all the time, they don't see him practice every day as if he's trying to earn a scholarship. Those things rub off, they can't help but rub off."
Romar, who constantly likes to point out that Brockman practices like he's trying to earn a scholarship, knew this season might be different than last year for his star forward. He warned his senior captain, an All-American candidate, that there might be less points but more wins in his future.
"His response was, 'Hey, I'm all for that, I've got no problem with that,'" Romar said.
Brockman has scored less this season -- he's scoring 15 points per game this season, down from 17.8 last year -- but the Huskies are winning. Because the team has more scorers, he has attempted 105 less field goals through 30 games this season than he did through 30 last year. Plenty of All-American candidates and NBA hopefuls would complain if they got less touches as a senior, but that has never been a problem for Brockman this year.
"You're talking about Jon Brockman who at times has taken four or six shots in a game because the defense has just collapsed on him, and he's out smiling and laughing and cheering guys on and diving for balls," Romar said. "That is special. That doesn't happen very much today ... Jon has been here four years and he's never talked to me about touches. Not one time."
`Brockman's learned at a young age not to worry about individual stats. His father, Gordy, was his coach from first to sixth grade, and throughout those years, Gordy refused to show his son the score book after the game.
"We never poured over the book, it was never a focal point," said Gordy Brockman. "We always tried to make sure they valued winning over their own numbers."
For the final time at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, Gordy and Becky Brockman, along with a number of other family members and friends, will watch Brockman suit up for the Huskies. And when it's over, Brockman will make his way out to the stands, say hello and thank you, and close another chapter on memorable college career.
"It's pretty emotional, it gets pretty sad," Brockman said. "But the one thing that I can say is that ending my career doing what we've done so far, if we keep on keeping on, keep getting better, there's no better way to go out. And even though the last two years were really hard, and they didn't go the way we expected it, I've never had any regrets. This place is my home. I love it here."
Herald Writer John Boyle: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on UW sports, check out the Huskies blog at heraldnet.com/huskiesblog
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