H. Mackay once quoted, “Do what you love, love what you do, and deliver more than you promise. As we reflect upon the life of Clement O. Brooks, better known as Clem, we can see that he most assuredly did what he loved, loved what he did and delivered more than he promised.
Clem Brooks was born in Edgecomb County, North Carolina to the late Mr. and Mrs. Lee Cully Brooks. He has two sons, Clem Jr., and Anthony, and is married to Sheila Stevenson Brooks.
After graduating from high school, Clem enlisted in the United States Air Force and garnered a career with 22 years. After leaving the Air Force, Clem worked with the airlines industry until retirement in 2008. Also, during this time, Clem worked as a football and basketball official in the Hillsborough/Pinellas Counties for over 50 years and was recently inducted into the Florida High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame. In 2009, Clem had the special privilege of working the Super Bowl here in Tampa as a side-line chain official. Clem presently works for the Doubletree Hotel.
Clem is a member of Beulah Baptist Church where he is a Deacon and sings with the Male Chorus. He also works with the youth and serves as a mentor.
Clem knows there is no greater joy or greater reward than to make a fundamental difference in someone’s life. He expresses the strength, wisdom, and love of God as he lends a helping hand to others untireingly.
Like many others, I played for years from 7th grade through senior year high school. Although I did not strike fear into many opponents, it did give me a background to work intramural sports in college. My senior year, I scheduled officials for all games.
As Recreation and Parks Director in Plant City from 1975 to 2004, I over saw the youth basketball program that grew to over 500 kids playing in three gyms. In the first few years, I recruited all officials, scorekeepers, coaches, players, and even swept out on occasion.
I started officiating in 1982 in JV ball. I got a good idea of what it is like to leave work and fight rush hour traffic across the county for early games. That time sensitive fact was never lost on me in later years.
Like everyone else I started working varsity games in the smaller Christian and public schools. My game got better, but I realized no one would know that until I got a chance to work with better people in better games. Being seen and rated is key to advancing for newer officials.
For an official, there is one call that will set the tone of the game. Generally, it comes in the first two or three minutes. Get that call right and your confidence goes up and respect for you is set.
Also, for a subordinate official, early in your varsity career, there is a pivotal time that you are called on to grab the game. For whatever reason, the burden falls on you. That is the time you must step up and take charge. That game can make you or set you back. This is the time to show you have arrived.
We all know you have only one or two other friends in the gym. They are dressed just like you and on the floor. Over the years, it was my honor and privilege to work with some on the finest officials in the state. They made me better and it was also my honor and obligation to pass those lessons on.
Gerald (Jerry) Lambert was a proud member of West Coast Officials Association for well over 25 years. He proudly served in the US Airforce for 20 years and retired in Tampa. Jerry was very proud of his Cajun heritage; there was no question of his heritage when you heard him speak. Mr. Lambert officiated several sports including football, basketball, baseball, and softball. Mr. Lambert worked State Finals in basketball, baseball, and softball—sadly, not football although more than qualified and deserving.
Throughout his many years of officiating, he was always noted to have one of the strongest crews in football because he was very selective of those he chose to work with. Mr. Lambert started off in football as a linesmen and worked his way to a referee position back in the days when there were only 8 crews. Jerry was elected and severed on every possible committee including Vice President of Football. He was noted for being hard on coaches, players, and other officials during games. This may be because he began is career in an era where discipline wasn’t as good as it is today--fighting wasn’t uncommon. Association members who knew him would all agree he was a dedicated trainer other officials. He spent hours filling out detailed evaluations, trying to help fellow officials. Mr. Lambert was a hard judge and you would have to repeatedly demonstrate competency in order to pass his inspection as an official.
While having a hard exterior at times, Mr. Lambert was known for a much softer side. After the games, he was known for his sense of humor and storytelling. Mr. Lambert was a major supporter of the Special Olympics and secured volunteer officials for several sports including basketball. He also worked with wheelchair basketball and would recruit volunteer officials there as well. Mr. Lambert’s induction comes posthumously. Mr. Lambert passed away in 2007 at the age of 69 while still an active and participating official in WCOA. He may have slowed down from his prime, but he still managed his own crew as a referee.
WCOA wants to recognize great officials from the past who left a mark on WOCA and belong in the Hall of Fame before their memory fades. The list of officials that Mr. Lambert mentored over the years would be too long to list for this this bio. Mr. Lambert should be remembered as a great official of many sports, a good hearted man with a very wicked since of humor, and a man who left a legacy that should be remembered and acknowledged in the West Coast Officials Association.