Scott Brooks named new boys basketball head coach at Woodstock

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By BENJAMIN ROSENBERG

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 06-30-2023 10:30 AM

Woodstock High has promoted from within to fill its boys basketball head coaching vacancy, naming Scott Brooks to the position after Steve Landon left to take over the girls’ team at Hartford.

Brooks, who came on last winter as the Wasps’ junior varsity coach and an assistant to Landon on the varsity, knows he needs to continue changing the culture at the lower levels to make Woodstock a winning program again.

“I’m going to get down and meet with the rec coaches when that season starts and work with them,” Brooks said. “Basically connecting the high school with the lower levels. There was a camp there at one time. I’ll try to re-implement that and get that off the ground again and just build some excitement at Woodstock.”

The Wasps won a VPA Division II state title with an undefeated season in 2015 and were runners-up the following year, but they have fallen on harder times recently, failing to advance past the preliminary round in any of the last five years. The head coaching position has been a revolving door, with Tom Avellino lasting just one year, baseball coach Jason Tarleton filling in on an interim basis for the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season and Landon spending just two seasons in Woodstock before returning to Hartford, where he won a D-II girls championship in 2012.

Brooks plans to welcome third- through sixth-grade boys from the Windsor Central Supervisory Union to the Woodstock gym on Saturday mornings for basketball clinics led by the Wasps’ varsity and JV players. The practice would not be unique to him in the Upper Valley — Oxbow High girls basketball coach Barry Emerson has run a similar program throughout his tenure with the Olympians.

“From day one, he brought a certain level of professionalism,” Woodstock athletic director Jack Boymer said. “He’s just a super-organized guy with very defined goals. The players (latched) onto that really well. He built the culture with the JV team of coming in every day (and) putting in hard work.”

Brooks grew up in the Burlington metropolitan area and attended Mount Mansfield Union High School, then played basketball at Norwich University. He credits his college coach, Ed Hockenbury, for sparking his own interest in coaching, saying he has borrowed several attributes of Hockenbury’s coaching style.

Since moving to the Upper Valley in 1999, Brooks has been coaching at some level in basketball, soccer and baseball. His two sons were both three-sport athletes at Hartford, and he helped out with the middle school and JV programs there while they were coming through. Brooks does have varsity experience as well, coaching for three years at Northfield before he moved to Quechee.

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“(Hockenbury) was a very charismatic guy, and when I coach, I’m very upbeat. I’m very loud and boisterous and try to get the best out of the kids,” Brooks said. “He was an excellent role model in that respect. He was what I would consider a players’ coach. All the players wanted to play for him, and I feel that’s my style of coaching too.

“The players I’ve coached over the years, they still keep in touch; they’ll email me or call me. I really enjoy being a role model for the next generation.”

The Wasps finished just 5-16 last year, but they dropped some squeakers against a tough schedule in their first season as a VPA Division III team. Woodstock lost by three points to D-I Burr & Burton in its season opener and, as the No. 13 seed in the playoffs, gave fourth-seeded Richford all it could handle before coming up three points short.

Landon’s team picked up two signature road wins over area foes, beating D-IV state champion Rivendell in December and routing White River Valley by 20 in late January.

Five seniors are gone from the Wasps’ 2022-23 squad, including leading scorer Declan McCullough. Rising seniors Ezra Lockhart and Zach Martsolf-Tan will be Woodstock’s top returnees in Brooks’ first head varsity campaign.

“Basketball in Woodstock needs to be top of mind, and right now it’s not,” Brooks said. “There’s no quick fix. It takes some time. The boys are on board, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I hope down the road, the fruits of our labor will pay off.”

Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at brosenberg@vnews.com or 603-727-3302.