Roast turns into lovefest

Event honors former HCC basketball coach Jim Brown

Event honors former HCC basketball coach Jim Brown

March 31, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

The answer was right there in the book of Genesis.

"Eureka!" Jim Brown said, and he went off to build the ARCC.

The crowd assembled to salute Brown laughed at Richard W. Phoebus' clever comparison of Brown's ARCC - the Athletic, Recreation and Convocation Center at Hagerstown Community College - and Noah's ark.

"Let me tell you - this dwarfs Noah's job," Phoebus said.

Brown, who served many years as the men's basketball coach, athletic director and head athletic complex administrator at HCC, retired last year. Friday night, he was toasted and roasted to the words of four people who know him well.

Phoebus, the president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation, jokingly said Brown's sideline theatrics must have stemmed from an earlier lead role in "Pirates of Penzance" and his desire to build the ARCC must have arisen from a deep-seated "edifice complex."


The ARCC was transformed into a banquet room for the $125-per-person dinner. New York strip steak was served.

A curtain ringed the 35 or so tables set out on the basketball floor and track. Balloon figures holding "rah-rah" signs sat in bleachers. A gym bag overflowing with athletic gear was perched on a bench in front of some lockers.

Banners trumpeting Brown's achievements - 747 high school and college basketball wins, a booster club, $1 million raised for the HCC Foundation - were hung around the room.

"Don't let anybody kid you that it was anybody but Jim" who built the ARCC, said Robert T. "Bo" Myers, the principal at North Hagerstown High School.

Myers, a former track and cross-country coach at the college, said he has tailed Brown from job to job in Washington County, as if they were playing cat and mouse.

Myers said he has invited Brown, a man passionate about his work, to come back to North High, even as a volunteer.

"I've proudly served with you and I'm going to tell you that I love you," Myers said, then hugged Brown.

Marie E. Nowakowski, the retired director of counseling for HCC, told a tale of struggling with what to say about Brown.

Then, she said, in a dream she met St. Peter the Fisherman at the Pearly Gates. They had a lengthy talk about who could start a sports program in the Great Beyond. Brown's ability to start a team from scratch every year, respect budgets and tough love with players qualified him, she said.

When you get the job, Nowakowski told Brown, "Remember everyone here tonight. And we get first dibs on the skyboxes."

"Only one thing is more demanding and difficult than playing for Coach Brown," said Ted Schoeck, who played basketball under Brown for three years at North High, "and that's being married to Coach Brown."

Schoeck told a story about how Brown's wife, Sharon, a teacher, made a difference in his friend's life. He complimented Jim Brown for his "astute marriage decision."

He also praised Brown for unorthodox approaches that worked.

"He taught by example and not just words," Schoeck said.

Proceeds from the roast benefited the Jim & Sharon Brown Scholarship Fund.

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