WINTHROP — Bruce Brooks applies a fresh coat of white paint on the 50-yard line, takes a few steps back and wipes the sweat from his brow.

His work is only just beginning on this sun-drenched morning.

“It’s a lot of work,” Brooks says. “But I don’t mind doing it. It keeps me busy, but it’s not easy. It takes me 37 hours a week to get this field ready for football. I probably spend 200 hours working here each football season.”

Maxwell Field is home to the Winthrop Ramblers. Like many high school fields, it needs plenty of attention throughout the week before the lights are turned on Friday night for a football game.

Enter Brooks, the 57-year-old soft-spoken Winthrop man who is the primary caretaker for the grounds. And he does it all on a volunteer basis.

“He’s a huge asset for us,” Winthrop athletic director Dwayne Conway said. “He’s helped me out tremendously, all the work he does.”

Brooks, whose son Bruce, Jr., played four years for the Ramblers, has been helping out for 13 years.

“I just want everything to look good,” he says. “This could be a tremendous field.”

His imprints on the Winthrop Grade School field are everywhere.

The press box on the hill that overlooks the field?

Brooks built that.

The lights on any of the four poles that overlook the field?

Brooks makes sure they work.

The watering, painting and trimming of the field?

Brooks — you may have guessed — does that, too.

“The building, the painting, the watering,” Winthrop principal Keith Morin says. “You can’t stop the guy. He’s out there every weekend. He does everything that needs to be done. He knows his limitations, but he’s been a huge help.”

Adds Winthrop coach Joel Stoneton: “Countless hours. It’s what he puts in. He saves the school time and money. All the little stuff, too, he does it all. He’s like a coach on the staff, and he never asks for anything.”

Brooks, through fundraisers and donations, also oversees a “slush fund” account set up through a local bank.

School officials say he always asks permission before funding any project, large or small.

Brooks estimates it cost between $3,000 and $5,000 to maintain the field each year.

“He’s a big part of this program,” Stoneton said.

He also hopes to have a hand in some changes that may come to Maxwell Field by next season.

One of the biggest projects being discussed is the removal of the four light poles, which are set a ways back from the playing field.

“Next year, we’d like to put in four new poles and put them in closer to the field,” Brooks said. “I got the poles from Loring Air Force Base. They were just sitting there and they donated them to us. We’ll get them 8 feet into the ground. It will be a lot better.”

But that’s just the beginning.

The wooden steps that lead down the hill to the field could also be dug out and replaced with a concrete stairway.

Furthermore, a section of the hill, perhaps two, would feature sets of bleachers set on a concrete base.

All projects would need school board approval, something that hasn’t happened yet.

“It’s going to be unbelievable,” Stoneton said. “It’s going to be a really nice field.”

Brooks picks up a can of spray paint and motions to a small group of Ramblers making their way down the field.

“These kids deserve a good field,” he says, “and if I can help them have one, then I’m happy.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]


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