HCC coach to coach 1,000th game

February 04, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

For Jim Brown, the best is yet to come.

That isn't as much a prediction as it is a reality to the Hagerstown Community College basketball coach. A reality that comes from living in a world few successfully venture.

"In a sense, I've been living the life of a dream," Brown said. "As a kid, you can't wait to play and when it's over, you can't wait to play the next one. I'm the same as a coach. I always think my best game will be my next one."

For 37 years, Brown has been living for those tomorrows. Ever since Dec. 11, 1959, he's been looking for that best game. Now, after 998 times of looking ahead, he will make his 1000th attempt at the perfect game.


The longtime area coach will toe the baseline for the 1,000th time in his career tonight at 8 when HCC hosts Prince George's at the HCC athletic complex. And when he turns over his coaching odometer, it will be proof that Brown has gone far and wide to look for that best game.

"What this means is it is the journey of a basketball coach," Brown said. "This isn't a celebration of Jim Brown. This is a celebration of one's career that lasted long enough to reach this level. The thing you have to remember is that I made it here with the help of a lot of people - assistants and fans."

Brown's journey started in the then-foothills of Hancock before heading down the main drag to North Hagerstown High before turning into the driveway of his current home at HCC.

Along the way, he's picked up 690 wins and a .691 winning percentage while coaching local heroes and the aspiringly famous. And the record and winning percentage would be higher if it weren't for an 0-29 season two years ago, thanks to forfeits because of the use of an ineligible player.

"I guess this puts me in the top one percent (for games coached)," Brown said. "I've just had such a positive experience. There is very little difference between coaches and their knowledge of the game, unless they just don't study the game."

So making it to the milestone is something a little special, especially in a profession where most people and some players question your every move and where winning is everything. The recipe for longevity isn't exactly a secret formula, but getting the right ratio of ingredients is.

"The difference in lasting this long is twofold," Brown said. "One is you can't take yourself too seriously and think you are the most important thing on the court. Players win games, I just coach. And two, it isn't a case of what you know, it's a case of how you motivate your players."

Players and attitudes have come a long way since Brown's first game - Hancock vs. St. Maria Goretti at the Hagerstown Armory, an overtime victory. The changing of times makes all the more important the choice of assistant coaches.

"I was fortunate to get my son Barry (Brown), who has the same interests I have, to join me 15 years ago and then add Kenny Keyes, who I coached at North High, 12 years ago," Brown said. "I have two young men who can relate to the young players.

"The 90s player has been the toughest to relate to. Part of it is because of the NBA. Kids see so many highlights ... the NBA is full of highlight players. We tell players if you want to be a player, work on your skills. If you want to be a champion, work on your mind."

Brown's memories have been many over the years - taking teams to the state finals at Hancock, winning the state title at North and knocking off three No. 1 teams and earning national ratings at HCC - but his points of emphasis have remained constant.

"If you don't work on the reasons why sports exist and how they are used to develop character, wins don't mean a lot," Brown said. "To coach this long, you have to be lucky. It's being at the right place at the right time and being there when there are a lot of good athletes to work with."

To Jim Brown, those days are still on the way.

Jim Brown highlights

Record - 690-309

including Hancock 104-48 (seven years)

North Hagerstown 126-53 (eight years)

HJC-HCC 460-208 (21 years)

Best athlete ever coached - Hancock's Dan Kerns

Best athletes coached at Hancock - Ray Keefer, Ken Sives, Kerns, Larry Wheeler, Mike Imphong and Terry Truax. Truax later when on to coach at Towson State.

Best athletes coached at North Hagerstown - John Smothers, Kenny Keyes, Charlie Rideout, Ted Schoeck, Eric Shrewbridge, Eddie Brooks, Jerry harris and Rory Sandberg.

Best athletes coached at HCC - "Dexter Boney on the perimeter, Bernard Hopkins on the inside, with Patrick Lee making a challenge."

HCC athletes who moved on to Division I colleges - Boney (UNLV), Hopkins (Virginia Commonwealth), Keith Moody (Nebraska), Phil Young and Vernon Brooks (Radford), Lamont Dale (Texas Tech), Scott Hardy (East Carolina), Troy Dingle (Pan American), Wendell Henry (Towson).

Biggest influence to start coaching - "My dad. He played and he coached and I hung on and did what he did."

Non-family members who added influence - "Richard Doub, who got me to start playing and watching the game in ninth grade at Williamsport and Richard Schultz, who gave me the chance to learn how to teach and coach."

Biggest accomplishment in life - Helping to make HCC's athletic complex a reality, giving Hagerstown the No. 1 facility in the area and one of the top facilities at a community college."

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