Joel Mireles '24

Joel Mireles '24

The student profile below appears in the Fall 2023 edition of the Brooks Bulletin, a publication mailed three times a year to alumni, parents and friends of the school. View the full issue and peruse an archive of the magazine on The Bulletin page. 

This is not a story about a great football player who is also a great Brooks kid. This is the story of a great Brooks kid who also happens to be a great football player. A really great Brooks kid, actually, and also a really great football player: Joel Mireles (below on right) is a dominant 6-foot, 1-inch tall, 200-pound tight end/inside linebacker who has picked up All-ISL and All-NEPSAC honors and who is a two-time captain for Brooks. At press time, he was deciding between commitments to NCAA Division I programs.

Joel Mireles '24: Athlete Spotlight (Fall 2023 Bulletin)

Mireles is also this year’s senior prefect, and his evolution into leadership at Brooks is where his story gets interesting. He grew up in nearby Lawrence, Massachusetts, and came to Brooks because he wanted to take advantage of opportunities provided in the school’s small classrooms and immersive program. At Brooks, he learned the meaning of teamwork on the field and across campus. Now, he’s a leader for the school who does his best to make himself and the people around him a little better every day.

Reaching a Dream

“The people where I’m from, they don’t really know how all this works,” Mireles says. “They’re used to going to high school and getting a job right after, and that’s the rest of their life.” Mireles tells of friends without reliable adults in their lives; of friends being incarcerated at a young age; of friends passing away. “I did not want that,” he says. “I wanted to be different. I wanted to break those generational cycles.”

Mireles got his chance when his eighth-grade Pop Warner football team beat a Pop Warner team from Reading, Massachusetts, witnessed by a member of the football coaching staff at Austin Preparatory School in Reading. The two talked, and Mireles ended up enrolling at Austin Prep for high school. After two years at Austin Prep, Mireles transferred to Brooks to repeat his fourth-form year. He was hoping to make an immediate impact on the Brooks program, but he ended up breaking his foot in the first game of the season.

“While I wish that hadn’t happened, I’m glad it did,” Mireles says now. “It taught me that I needed to treat the game with more respect than I had been.” Mireles says that he hadn’t trained as hard as his teammates had over the summer, and he had not been caring for himself as an athlete. “That lit a fire in me,” he says. “I learned that I had to engage in the process, the grind. I had to give my teammates the same respect and commitment they were giving me.”

Mireles redoubled his efforts, bounced back in his fifth-form year, and attained his goal of playing Division I college football. “I wanted to make sure that I earned a scholarship, that I earned my spot, and that I could continue to attend college, graduate and get a degree,” he says.

The Lessons of Teamwork

Mireles isn’t known around campus just as an athlete and as senior prefect. He’s also invested in the school’s theatre program. A longtime member of the tech crew, Mireles made his acting debut in a star turn in last spring’s production of “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Taking to the stage, he says, was a new experience for him, but he learned quickly to apply the same lessons about responsibility, reliance and preparation that he learned on the field.

He found acting after enrolling into an introductory acting class early in his Brooks career. He opted to work on the afternoon activity tech crew as a fourth-former, and then, last spring, found himself auditioning for an on-stage role. “[Director of Theatre Meghan] Hill said we all had to audition,” Mireles remembers. He had convinced some friends from the football team to be on the tech crew with him, and he remembers telling them “not to panic. She’s just doing this to see if anybody has any hidden talent.”

As it turns out, Mireles and his football teammates did have some hidden talent, and they ended up with speaking roles in the production. Mireles found this stressful at first. “I didn’t want that big of a role because I didn’t want to mess up,” he says. “I know how hard people work on the plays, so I was acting like it was too much and not giving my commitment the time it deserved.”

Then, after giving it some thought, Mireles saw a parallel between his lack of drive in the theater and the lack of drive that left him with a broken foot. “These people around me were working super hard, and I wasn’t even trying,” he says. His football teammates came to an agreement: “We all agreed that if this was football, we’d be really upset at the kid who wasn’t trying as hard as they could,” Mireles says. “The next day, we brought a different energy, a new intensity, a new joy, and I really liked it. I loved being up on stage. It was such a different experience, and it was awesome.”

“I learned that it’s important to honor everybody’s passions and talents. If you’re on a team, it doesn’t matter if it’s the football team or a cast of actors,” Mireles concludes. “Somebody really cares, somebody’s trying to win, and you should help them because that’s what a team does.”

Mireles takes his role as senior prefect seriously, and he reflects on how he approaches the position. “This is my last year here, and I want to make a lasting impact,” he says. “Being the senior prefect drives me to be a better version of myself every day and to help the people around me be better versions of themselves. I’ve taken all the opportunities Brooks has given me, and I’ve used them as learning experiences to become the person I am today. Whatever I do from here on out, I’m going to take on every challenge I face as an opportunity, and I’m going to make sure I benefit from it in the right way.”