Coach Brown made lasting impact
Coach. Friend. Legend.
Those three words are just a few of many that describe Allen Brown, who is retiring from coaching at Thomasville High School for a second time. He finishes with a record of 331 wins, 100 losses and two ties.
Allen Brown: The Coach
George Cushwa laid the groundwork for Brown in 1959, coaching the Bulldogs through the 1972 season. When Cushwa stepped down, Brown took over as head coach and began a career that will be remembered for years to come.
He captured his first state championship in 1988, then proceeded to win titles in '91 and '95.
In 1999 he announced his retirement, but the game he lives and breathes would soon bring him back. He became defensive coordinator at Newberry College, but eventually returned home to be the defensive coordinator for his son Benjie. The two joined forces and turned the Bulldogs into a feared program, winning three consecutive state titles from 2004-06. When Benjie decided to hang up his whistle to take an administrative position, the elder Brown stepped back in to be head coach.
With its longtime leader back at the helm, Thomasville continued its rich tradition of winning. Dominant all season long, the Bulldogs brought home the school's eighth state championship in 2008.
Though many will remember Brown for his wins on Friday nights, those who played for him take away much more. He was a mentor to many young men who passed through his program. I have heard several stories of how Brown has made a positive impact on lives. While serving as athletic director, he was at the school on a daily basis to make sure students were working hard in the classroom and preparing them for life beyond athletics.
Allen Brown: The Friend
I have known about Brown and his accomplishments most of my life, but it was not until I came to the Times that I knew the man himself personally. I am sure glad I had the opportunity in my career to work with and know Mr. Brown.
A few years ago, I had recently been named sports editor and was sitting at what is now Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center. My mother was undergoing outpatient surgery and I was relaxing in the waiting room. In walked coach Brown, who sat down near me and we chatted for a few moments. Right before it was time for me to leave, I recall coach Brown telling me I was doing a great job at the newspaper. I was blown away. Here I was, a sportswriter in my mid-20s, just beginning my career and getting a compliment like that from such a highly respected and known resident of Thomasville. Those words will always stick with me. And though I never had the privilege to be coached by Brown, I felt like one of his players at that moment. And I felt like a friend.
That is just my story. There are many more out there that would fill page after page about the kind of friend Allen Brown has been over the years.
Allen Brown: The Legend
The numbers speak for themselves. Though his Hall of Fame career may finally be at its end, his accomplishments will forever be documented in the North Carolina High School record books. A coach of his status may never come along again.
Brown was a brilliant mind of the game. His adjustments at halftime of games were impeccable. The respect he was given by opposing coaches was admirable. He is simply – a LEGEND.
Thomasville High School has a tough task ahead. How do you replace someone who has dedicated so much time and effort to both the school and community? I'm afraid they can't. The next coach of the Bulldogs will have huge shoes to fill.
I believe THS athletic director Steve Bare is going to have some long days in the next couple of months. There is no doubt going to be a lot of interest in the position. With its tradition, Thomasville High School is well known not only in North Carolina, but the surrounding states as well. There should be some high profile coaches showing interest in the job.
My hope is that the community shows patience to the one chosen for the job. After all, they are replacing a man that has set the bar very high. They will undoubtedly feel pressure to be successful early. Success may come instantly, but if it doesn't, the coach deserves adequate time to turn things around.
But for now, we pay tribute to a great man that has served his school, team and community well.
Allen Brown: A Coach. A Friend. A Legend. You will be missed, sir!
Sports Editor Zach Kepley can be reached at 888-3631, or firstname.lastname@example.org.