Javonne Brooks – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
University of New Orleans
During her four years at the University of New Orleans (1988-92), Javonne Brooks (now Brooks-Grant) not only established herself as the best volleyball player in UNO history, but she also proved herself to be one of the top volleyball players in the nation. In 2005, a 26-member media panel selected her as the Sun Belt Conference’s top all-time volleyball player as part of the conference’s 30th anniversary celebration.
Statistically, the excellence of Brooks is easy to quantify – she held the NCAA Division I career kills record until 1995 (and still ranks second all-time with 2,932); she ranks second all-time in NCAA single-season kills with 878 (1992); and she is third all-time nationally in kills per set with an average of 6.1 in 1992.
However, while the stats show her greatness, those who witnessed her in action talk reverently about her power.
“During one match, she went up and hit a ball so hard, the girl on the other side of the net couldn’t get out of the way fast enough and it broke her nose,” said Robin Martin, who played basketball at UNO during the Brooks-era and is now the SWA at the University of Cincinnati. “That made you understand how explosive she was. I don’t even think she realized it. Night-in, night-out, Javonne even surprised herself with her power.”
In addition to holding six UNO career records, Brooks was selected Louisiana Player of the Year three times (1989, 1990 and 1992) and was a first-team member of the All-Louisiana team for each of the four years she played at UNO. Brooks’ school career records include: career kills, career kills per set, career hitting percentage, career service aces, career blocks, and career blocks per game.
Brooks (pictured left with Sugar Bowl President Lance Africk) was selected first team All-American in 1992. Included among her many other honors are: 1989 Louisiana Newcomer of the Year, a five-time Sun Belt Player of the Week, four-time All-Region selection (1989-1992), and 1992 Sun Belt first-team selection. Before UNO rejoined the Sun Belt Conference, Brooks was chosen American South Player of the Week seven times, and was selected to the American South all-tournament team both years she participated.
After her playing career, she went on to a successful coaching stint with the Dillard volleyball program on the recommendation of Martin, her former UNO classmate.
“I talked the director of athletics into hiring her,” Martin said. “I understood her work-ethic. She was athletically talented, but she always worked hard. She understood it wasn’t okay to just have talent, you had to work to develop that talent.”
At the time of her induction, Brooks-Grant was a teacher studying for a Master’s Degree in special education in Texas.
In 2012, she was presented with the Sam Lacy Pioneer Award by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). The award is given annually to sports figures based on their “contributions to their respected careers, but more importantly, their direct impact on the communities they served.”
Story submitted by Will Peneguy of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.