Tracy Brooks – Baseball Star to Football MVP

Track Brooks is a 5-9 205-pound running back for the Salina Liberty. Brooks has played for the team since 2018.

Growing Up 

Tracy Brooks is the son of Johnnie Dowdell and Tracy Brooks Sr. He grew up in Loachapoka, Alabama, a suburb of the city of Auburn. Brooks took a different route to football than most kids.

He didn’t start playing football until he was in the 7th grade. Baseball was Tracy’s first love, and he was really good at it. Scouts from the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers started talking to Brooks at the age of 10. 

After starting T-ball at age five, Brooks made the Little League World Series at age nine and again when he was 12, but the young budding superstar wasn’t done yet, getting back there yet again at ages 15 & 16.

Football was first introduced to Brook by his father Tracy Brooks Sr around sixth grade, Tracy had a lot of aggression and football was a good place to funnel that. 

He started on the defensive side of the field, playing linebacker before turning his skills to the offensive backfield as a running back and sliding to safety on defense.

He led the state in interceptions in his junior season as he helped lead his team on a deep playoff run. Unfortunately for his senior season, Brooks was forced to choose which sport he would pursue in college, having scholarship offers for both. 

Brooks stuck with his early childhood love and played baseball at Central Alabama University. Unfortunately for Brooks, he tore his labrum and dislocated his shoulder in a practice intrasquad game, forcing him to miss the season. The very next year, though, it was another World Series appearance for the baseball star, this time winning the JUCO World Series. 

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A Pro and an MVP 

After the JUCO World Series, Brooks hung up the baseball glove due to the nagging shoulder issues affecting his game. Luckily for us, Brooks turned around and went right back to his love of football. Brooks returned to the Auburn area, where he played for the semi-pro Opelika Chiefs, where he helped lead the team to an undefeated regular season. 

Going into the 2017 season, Brooks sent some film to the Salina Liberty of the Champions Indoor Football League at the time, and the rest, they say, is history.

The team said they’d give him an opportunity to try out but couldn’t promise him a spot on the team. A tryout was all the motivation Brooks needed; he’s been a part of the team ever since. 

Brooks shared his thoughts on the transition from playing the outdoor game to the arena life.

“I’m a real athlete; football is football for me. This game is quick and fast; it’s up-tempo.” 

Tracy helped lead the Liberty to the CIF championship game in both 2019 and 2021. Brooks won the 2021 league MVP and is second all-time in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns in CIF history. He led the CIF with 671 yards on the ground in 2023 and an astonishing 20 touchdowns on the ground.

Coach O’Neal called Brooks “the most unselfish superstar you will ever see.”

“In the game of Arena football, the more versatile you are, the more creative things you can do, so with Tracy being the most unselfish superstar I’ve ever had. It is fun to create different things for him.”

Off The Field 

At this point, Brooks is just as much a Kansan as anyone else, but he laughed when asked what it was like to come from Alabama in the South to the Midwest and Kansas.

“When I first heard of Kansas I thought it was like a foreign place, I knew it was part of the 50 states, but they don’t play football in Kansas, that’s a basketball state.”

Growing up in a fast-paced city and then moving to Salina was a big change for Brooks. He’s embraced the slowed-down lifestyle where everyone knows everyone.

“Everyone out here is like family, it’s probably what I needed and it’s what keeps me here.” 

Every game day at home, Brooks and center Kelvin McCoy make it a tradition to eat at a sponsor’s place for breakfast, whether that is IHOP or Russells. He said he doesn’t have many other game day traditions. He just shows up locked in. You may find him listening to a little Tupac or Biggie Smalls to stay hyped up before a game. 

Off the field, if Brooks has free time away from practice and working out, he loves to be out on the lake fishing or down at the bowling alley tossing strikes. When his football days are over, Brooks wants to stay close to the game and help teach the next generation of players the sport he loves.

His advice to the kids is, “Never give up. Keep pushing towards your goals. The sky’s the limit. You can do anything you put your mind to.” He was told he was too small to play football, but that didn’t stop him, and look where it’s led him. 

Brooks said both his parents are his biggest supporters, his dad Tracy helped train him from a young age and still motivates him. His mother, Johnnie, worked two jobs, how to work hard and always be there for him. They’ve both always supported Brooks along his journey. 

The Salina Liberty begin their journey towards ArenaBowl XXXIII this Saturday, July 6th, at 4:00 PM ET on CBS Sports Network.

When asked why the Liberty can win it all Brooks answered quickly and simply, “We prepare the best.”

His message to the Liberty fans is, “We love y’all, we thank y’all for the support, and without y’all, there is no Salina Liberty, keep coming, keep supporting, and we’ll keep winning.”

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