Thursday, December 25, 2014

Remembering my one and only Coach

Coach Brown with Melinda Hall and Angela Crosby. All three are in the Hanna Hall of Fame.
Before there was a trophy named for him, before his plaque was hung in the T.L. Hanna High School Hall of Fame, before he won four state championships in two sports, Ed Brown cut his coaching teeth on a scraggly bunch of teenagers wearing the peach-orange polyester jerseys of Concord Baptist Church.
Ed and Sheila Brown on their 25th anniversary in 1984.
Including me, No. 33.
Coach Brown was the only real coach I ever had, and as far as I know we may have been the first basketball team he ever coached. 
He was also my 11th-grade teacher in Western civilization, and his wife Sheila was my Sunday School teacher.
History confirms that Coach Brown knew plenty about basketball, but we didn't offer him much to work with. Concord didn't even have a gym to practice in. We played our games at Gluck Mill, Orr-Lyons Mill, and the First Baptist Church. 
We had only one decent player, and his eight-year-old sister could dribble circles around the rest of us. I don't know that we ever successfully executed the pick-and-rolls Coach tried to teach us, but it was not for a lack of patient coaching on his part. 
We didn't win very often, and I didn't score very much, but over two years we improved. We learned how to represent our church. Coach Brown set the example. 
Kids often don't fully appreciate our coaches and teachers until years later. I dealt with Coach Brown throughout my 26 years as a sportswriter but didn't pause to reflect on the scope of his accomplishments until I got the call on Christmas Eve that Coach had died. 
I remembered that he coached the girls' basketball program at Hanna and won a state championship in 1981 with Melinda Hall, the kid sister I mentioned previously. Google reminded me that he had also won three state championships in boys' golf and was instrumental in organizing girls' golf on a statewide levelto the extent that the state champion receives the Ed Brown trophy.
I knew he was a deacon, but I had forgotten he was also a football referee, and until now I never realized he was Korean War veteran. His Facebook page is a hall of family.
Coach Brown was a fixture at T.L. Hanna for 30 years, and he was a pillar of our church for even longer. Half of Anderson knew him, and I don't think he forgot any of us. 
Thanks, Coach, for having the faith to put me into the game, and and for setting a lifelong example of how to live triumphantly.

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