TCS honors Brown Tuesday night
Allen Brown admittedly is an emotional person.
Brown's emotions bubbled to the surface Tuesday night when the Thomasville City Schools Board of Education honored the recently retired head football coach for his service and commitment to student-athletes.
Former players and current administrators wished Brown a happy retirement at Tuesday night's TCS meeting, sharing stories about the impact he made on their lives during a career spanning five decades. When it finally was Brown's turn to address the audience, the emotion in his voice spoke volumes.
“To bring in the coaches and players makes it hard on me,” Brown said. “I can only say thank you. These guys, coaches, players, they did this. I was just along for the ride.”
Brown decided to retire in November, ending a Thomasville High School coaching career that began in 1973. Brown's teams won 331 games and four state championships with countless players going on to play college football.
At 67, Brown feels the time is right for him to step away.
“You just have to end at some point,” said Brown. “I still love the game itself and the concept of high school coaching. I think it's an honorable profession where we help a lot of kids. But age takes its toll on everybody. Eventually there comes a time where we all have to step back and do a little less. I've done less. I went from not teaching and being athletic director to just being an assistant coach and I did a little head coaching here at the end but I never was back in the classroom. I think at my age I need another reduction. I think as everybody gets old they'll have the same thing.”
Quick to deflect praise to those around him, Brown said he never could have done anything alone.
“It takes everybody to have a football team,” Brown said. “It takes a head coach but it takes principals, it takes administrators, it takes teachers, and it takes the band, the players, and the community ultimately. The more you can pull all those factions together on a common course, the better chances you have at being successful. That's pretty much how we've been able to get that done.”
Assistant Coach Roger Bryant played on Brown's first team at THS in 1973 and returned to the school two years later as a student coach. The lessons he learned from Brown in the ensuing years went far beyond the Xs and Os of high school football.
“He's like a second family to me,” said Bryant. “He showed me how a man is supposed to act with his family and how to show leadership to young men. One of the things I admired most about him was how our poor children, a lot of them from the worst parts of town, were given the opportunity to show what they could do on a football field. Above anything else, they were given equal opportunity. So many times I've seen kids do things to grow and do things we never thought they could do . It's not always sometimes about going off to being a college athlete or anything like that. Sometimes it's about being a better person.”
Patience, Bryant said, was one of Brown's best virtues.
“He had more patience than anybody with coaches, players, administration, you name it,” Bryant said. “He's had a lot of patience over the years to have had all the success we've had. So many times behind the scenes, you try to decide if a kid gets a second chance or a third chance, but it took a lot for a child to be removed from our football team. It took a lot for a child to lose all his chances. He gave them chances over and over again to prove themselves.”
THS Athletic Director Steve Bare started coaching in 1991 and immediately found a role model in Brown.
“I heard Coach Brown speak in the summer of 1992 and I thought 'wow, I want to be like that guy,'” said Bare. “I just want you to know Coach that there are people outside of Thomasville with whom you've made a difference to as well and I appreciate that.”
Relationships are what Brown said he will miss the most.
“I love our coaching staff and working with them I guess more than anything,” Brown said. “And of course taking that team and having that team, working with the kids and the interaction with the kids, you're going to miss that certainly too. But the idea of taking the staff and getting them to go out and provide what it takes to help these kids be competitive is what I'm going to miss of course.”
TCS superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin presented Brown with a plaque recognizing his commitment to Thomasville community. A commitment on the football field that helped shape the lives of hundreds of young men looking for a better life.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.