Master of the quips, Mike Brown is always ready for a funny one-liner.
The longtime Redbank Valley basketball, football and baseball coach who later toiled in the dugout at Clarion University with the baseball team has been on the basketball sideline in recently years at Keystone and North Clarion.
After assisting at Keystone last year under Panthers coach Greg Heath, he took over as head coach for North Clarion’s boys’ team after spending time there as an assistant in recent years as well.
Last weekend, the 72-year-old Brown also landed as a member of the Mercer Hall of Fame. The 1968 Reynolds High School graduate was a three-sport star in basketball and football and track there before attending and starring in basketball at Pitt-Titusville.
“It’s always nice to recognized at home and all my coaching was done in Pittsburgh and Clarion County, so that’s pretty special,” said Brown, who was inducted into the Redbank Valley Sports Hall of Fame in 2021.
Brown’s Wolves are 4-11, but he takes that in stride, considering how many games he’s coached after five decades on the sideline or bench.
“A guy by the name of Denny Driscoll, he was the coach at St. Mike’s back home when I started there at the elementary level and junior high. He was the guy I wanted to be like,” Brown said. “To me, he was close to walking on water as coach and he had a lot of influence on my life.”
Brown was the head basketball coach for 25 years, winning two Clarion County League Championships 1990-91 and 1991-92 and one District 9 title 1979-80. He’s the all-time wins leader in program history with 232. He was the head baseball coach for eight years with a record of 105-44, winning three KSAC title in 1998, 1999 and 2000 and D9 runners-up twice in 2000 and 2004. He also served as boys’ track coach for 19 years and assistant football coach for 23 years.
Brown also coached baseball 11 years at Clarion University, nine as head coach.
“I’ve always enjoyed coaching basketball and that’s what got me to college and through everything, so it’s probably still No. 1 in my book,” Brown said.
Some quick-hit questions for Brownie:
Favorite basketball player: Larry Bird, without hesitation.
Baseball: Mickey Mantle.
Football: Joe Namath.
Who do you emulate the most as a basketball coach: Jim Valvano in basketball. (The late N.C. State coach).
Brown said he had to put on some different type of shoes for the ceremony.
“It’s the first time I’ve had on anything but sneakers in like seven years,” he joked.
Brown made sure to mention the guys he coached with at Redbank Valley — Dave Moore, Larry Shumaker, Ed Wasilowski. “They all contributed to this award,” he said. “And Bob Tonkin was the first coach to hire me when he was at Redbank Valley at that time as a wide receiver and defensive back coach. That started it all at Redbank.”
JUMPING ALL AROUND — The Penn State Behrend men’s indoor track and field team started its schedule with a trip to the Highlander Invitational last Saturday at Houghton College and former Redbank Valley standout Sam Hetrick got back to work.
Hetrick, a junior and three time All-American high jumper in indoor and outdoor combined, won the high jump at Houghton after clearing 6 feet, 6 3/4 inches. Another D9 native Evan States of Punxsutawney won the triple jump at 38 feet, 11 1/2 inches.
This Friday, Hetrick and Behrend head to the SPIRE Collegiate Invitational.
Washington & Jefferson sophomore Declan Fricko got his indoor jumping season going at last Saturday’s Otterbein Invitational by finishing sixth in the high jump after clearing 5 feet, 8 3/4 inches.
In other college news:
— Union’s Dominika Logue and Redbank Valley’s Tara Hinderliter are on the Clarion University Golden Eagles women’s basketball team. Both have seen limited action. Logue, in eight games, has scored 14 points over 43 minutes with four 3-pointers. Hinderliter, in five games, has scored a point in 21 minutes of playing time. North Clarion’s Abby Gatesman, in 16 games, is averaging 2.5 points in 13.6 minutes of playing time. The Golden Eagles are 3-14.
Rich Rhoades is the sports editor of the Leader-Vindicator and the Jeffersonian Democrat in Brookville. E-mail: email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @TheSkinny1969 or on Facebook.