Assistant Sports Editor
The relationship between a coach and his team members is an underrated dynamic in the overall success of a team. This relationship affects the coach’s feelings towards his team while also determining the comfort level that a member of the team has towards his coach.
Bryan Brown, the new Springfield College men’s cross country coach, has been able to use this relationship to his advantage while trying to have each of his runners reach his full potential as both a young man and an athlete.
The runners have a mutual respect with Brown because they know where he has been, where he is coming from and that the way he operates has produced outstanding results in the past.
Brown graduated from Springfield, where he was an All-American track star and a decorated student-athlete. Brown took a winding road with many occupational pit stops sprinkled in between the time he was an athlete at SC and now.
Brown graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Movement Sciences in 1996, and then took a graduate fellowship in the intramural department to utilize his final year of cross country eligibility. He went on to complete his master’s degree in Health Studies in 1998. He also helped coach the women’s cross country team while taking graduate classes at SC.
He then became an elementary health teacher in Agawam, Mass. From there, he served two different stints as the Director of Athletics and Physical Education teacher at both Oakmont Regional and South Hadley High School for a combined nine years.
While Brown enjoyed what he was doing, in the back of his head, he knew he wanted to be a coach.
“After three more years, I realized I wanted to do more coaching than what I was doing. So I took a position at the Ludlow Boys and Girls club as their youth athletic director, and it has allowed me to be available to coach more,” said Brown. “During my nine years of being an A.D., I did a lot of coaching in track and field and cross country, among other sports, but it was tough doing both.”
When Brown finally realized coaching was the career that he wanted to dedicate himself to, the opportunity to coach at his alma mater was an opportunity he could not pass up.
“One of the things I love about Springfield is that everyone who works here as a coach, professor or administrator are people of high character,” said Brown. “They are the type of people that do things for others and expect nothing in return.”
I believe they instill that in their students and athletes over the years that they are here.”
Coaching in an environment where he had been so successful as an athlete helps Brown relate better to his players. Brown feels he understands what they go through on a day-to-day basis.
Brown is a rare breed of coach, who is said to understand and not underestimate the “little things” going on in his athlete’s lives.
“I think the guys respect Coach Brown a little more than coaches in the past because he has been so successful and they see that what he has us doing has proven results,” said junior Ryan O’Connell, last week’s NEWMAC Men’s Cross Country Runner of the Week.
“What sets Coach Brown apart from other coaches we have had is he treats everyone the same and he respects us as individuals and listens to what we think. He is very truthful with us.”
“I know what I had to do to get to that level,” said Brown. “I expect that my athletes will acquire the work ethic and do the things that will take them to that level if they want it bad enough, and because they know I have been there, they believe in it.”
O’Connell, Brown and the entire team have set goals for this season. The ultimate goal is to make Nationals, which Brown acknowledges will be a challenge and says the team needs to remain completely healthy for that to come true.
The cross country program is headed in the right direction here at SC, and they have the right coach with the right attitude to build a successful program.
“No matter how many books you read and how much information you gather, I believe that having gone through an experience that your athletes are going through, gives you an edge in so many ways,” said Brown. “Most importantly, I want each athlete to leave this program having the same positive, rewarding experience that I had as a student-athlete as SC.”
Dylan Tully may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org