Every great basketball team needs to have depth on the bench—talented players who can come into the game and make an impact at any time. It comes as no surprise then, that one of the biggest contributors to the undefeated Geneseo women’s basketball team this season has been one of their first players off the bench, sophomore forward McKenna Brooks.
Brooks has come off the bench in 22 of 25 games this season, but leads the team in field goal percentage, blocks and steals; she is also second in rebounds and third in total points.
Born in Buffalo, Brooks’ love for basketball began at a young age through a close relationship with her mother, a former basketball coach. She remembers her mother bringing her to practices as early as age three, where she first picked up a ball and dribbled. As she grew up and began playing for travel teams, basketball became a bonding force between Brooks and her mom.
“My mom would always travel with me to games and it brought us closer,” Brooks said in an email interview. “We have such a good relationship with each other; she’s definitely my best friend.”
Having a coach as a parent also helped Brooks out on the court. She credits her mother as the biggest influence on her playing career.
“With her knowledge of basketball from being a coach, she’s always telling me what I can work on to get better and what I’m doing well,” she said. “After a game, she’s the first person to critique me—whether I like it or not. I don’t know if I would’ve found my love for basketball if it wasn’t for her.”
Brooks attended and played basketball at Oswego High School after moving to Oswego, N.Y. from Buffalo just before her freshman year of high school. Moving to a new school and not knowing anyone was frightening for her at first, but thanks to basketball, she quickly made 15 new friends that she also called teammates.
Toward the end of her high school career, Brooks visited Geneseo after head coach Scott Hemer had watched her play and expressed interest in recruiting her. She immediately fell in love with the campus and, on the ride home, told her mother she did not want to visit any other school.
“Before I left Geneseo, I already knew that I wanted to come here,” Brooks said. “The team was not only talented, but they were so welcoming and you could tell they all had a close relationship with each other.”
Now in her second season, the Knights achieved a perfect 25-0 regular season record. They will head into the SUNYAC Tournament ranked No. 16 in the nation and one of just five teams in Division III who remain undefeated.
“This season has been amazing,” Brooks said. “Winning games is nice, but playing with these girls is just so much fun. I think that’s why we’re so successful.”
At the moment, Brooks and the team are focused on the playoffs. With all five of the Knights regular starters in their senior year, however, Brooks is looking forward to the challenge of stepping into more of a leadership role next year as an upperclassman.
“Losing five starters is going to force a lot of us to step up and be leaders,” she said. “I think we’ll be ready when the time comes.”
In the classroom, Brooks majors in business administration. She loves to travel and cites Australia as her favorite destination. She is also an avid fan of Syracuse University men’s basketball, although they have “too many close games and give me a heart attack almost every time they play,” according to Brooks.
Brooks and Geneseo women’s basketball will be in action on Friday Feb. 24, when they host the SUNYAC semifinals at Schrader Gymnasium.