Personal Life

Brooks and his family, photo taken from Herb Brooks Foundation Website
Herb Brooks was born August 5, 1937 and grew up in a small family home in St. Paul, Minnesota, with his two siblings and his mother and father. As many Minnesotans do, Brooks took to the ice at a young age, learning the game “when I was four or five on ponds near my home,” (Bernstein 8).He had a very lengthy playing career, beginning as a young boy and playing into the late 1960s.  Brooks owes almost everything in his life to hockey, including his wife Patti.

The two met in 1964 when Patti, a nurse working in St. Paul, tended to Herb's broken arm after a particularly rough game. The two were married within a year and had two children, a boy, Dan, and a girl, Kelly (Calio 18).

When his playing career ended in 1970, Brooks took up coaching, first as an assistant then in 1972 as a head coach for the Golden Gophers, his alma mater. Brooks had a prolific coaching career, standing behind the benches of NFL, Olympic, and amateur teams alike. Brooks was known to be an eccentric coach, who practiced a hybrid of North American “play the body” hockey and European fluidity and conditioning (Calio 11-12). His colorful use of metaphor is almost as famous as his coaching style; in fact, many players kept notebooks to jot down his more inventive sayings, referred to as “Brooksisms."

Brooks’ life was cut tragically short in 2003 when he was killed in a car accident traveling just north of Minneapolis. About a year later, a statue was commissioned in his honor and played in St. Paul’s Rice Park (Bernstein 9-10).