Brett Cooksey, a lifelong Fairview Eagle, felt the urge to move on from his alma mater.
“It’s always hard to change, but I’ll always have great memories of Fairview as an athlete, a student and a teacher,” Cooksey said Wednesday after confirming he had resigned as the Eagles’ boys basketball coach. “I got to coach a lot of great athletes and teach a lot of great kids. They gave me a lot of opportunities, and I’ve learned a lot over my 10 years of coaching there.”
Cooksey, a 2005 Fairview graduate who served one season each as the boys basketball and football head coaches in Westwood, said he is going to Russell to teach health and serve as a hoops assistant coach.
His athletic director understands the inclination — from personal experience.
“I know Brett loves Fairview,” said Eagles athletic director Rex Cooksey — Brett’s father — who coached at Fairview from 1978 to 1996 before going to Ashland and Greenup County, then returning to Westwood.
“He went here and he played here and he loves it,” Rex continued, “but I just think he's at that stage of his career and has opportunities (where) it was a good move for him.”
Brett Cooksey began his coaching career as an assistant on the Fairview boys basketball staff in 2009. He led the Eagles football program in 2018 and took over as Fairview’s hoops bench boss for the 2019-20 season.
“I’ve gained a lot of experience,” Brett Cooksey said of his stints in the head-coaching chair. “Until you’re the head coach, there’s a lot of things that as an assistant you may take for granted because they’re taken care of by the head coach. But I’ve learned a lot and I think that’ll help me in the long run.”
The Eagles went 8-18 last winter, with a handful of competitive losses mixed in.
“I thought he really did a good job with the kids last year,” Rex Cooksey said. “I thought they got better and better as the year went along. They were a pretty young basketball team.
“I know what kind of coach he is. As far as Xs and Os, they take care of themselves, but being able to motivate and relate to kids and put the extra time and effort in, that's what coaching's all about.”
Brett is already familiar with the 63rd District, he noted, because Fairview played in it before moving to the 64th in sweeping KHSAA realignment preceding the 2005-06 season.
And he is excited to join the staff of veteran coach Tom Barrick, who is entering his second year at Russell. They faced off once last season, with the Red Devils pulling out a 61-41 decision in Westwood.
“He’s a really good coach,” Brett Cooksey said of Barrick. “He’s had a lot of wins, and it’ll be nice to learn off of him and be able to help and do whatever he needs me to do.”
Brett Cooksey will reunite with older brother Derek, who made the same career move — Eagles head boys basketball coach to Red Devils assistant — last summer.
Brett Cooksey also served one year as the Fairview athletic director and was an Eagles assistant baseball coach. He stayed on as a football assistant last year after turning the reins over to Daniel Armstrong.
“He took the football program back (in 2018) and told me, ‘Dad, I don't have intentions of being a longtime head football coach, but I can save it.’ That's the kind of guy he is,” Rex Cooksey said. “He’d coached everything and done a lot of things around the school, sponsored a lot of clubs, drove a bus. I think he's just at that stage of his life, and I've been there too. I understand that.”
Brett also plans to pursue Rank I certification this fall, he said.
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