CLEVELAND — Some coaches just can’t help but win. No matter the sport, players, climate or area, there are some leaders who always find themselves on top.
John Brown is one such coach.
In 2006, the year before Brown took over the program, the White County High softball team finished the season 12-15.
This season, the Lady Warriors went 30-6 and won the Class AAA state title after never before advancing deep into the playoffs. Not bad for a coach who had never headed a softball program before.
For the success he has brought to Cleveland, Brown is The Times 2010 Softball Coach of the Year.
Of course, Brown takes very little, if any, credit for the turnaround.
“A coach is only as good as his players,” Brown said. “When I got here they had good kids, I just don’t think that they knew how to win.”
Creating that winning mindset is the only thing Brown is willing to take some credit.
“I might of had a little bit to do with that,” Brown said. “But all the rest is having pretty good ball players.”
Each season since Brown took over in 2007, the Lady Warriors have posted a winning record, including going 21-12 in his first season and 26-9 in 2008.
Stephanie Satterfield, a graduating senior this year and the Class AAA Player of the Year, has played for Brown since her freshman year and believes that it is the coach’s mild-mannered attitude that has allowed the Lady Warriors to succeed.
“He’s not really one of those coaches who yells at you and treats you like a dog,” Satterfield said. “He treats you like a person.”
Satterfield took the sentiment one step further, stating that Brown was “like a second dad” to her.
The pitcher, who will play for Georgia Perimeter College next season, is happy that she got to be a part of winning a state title for Brown.
“All four of my years I thought that he really deserved to be part of a state title because he was a good coach, a good person,” Satterfield said. “It took four years to do it but he finally got what he deserved.”
While Brown may have won his first softball state title this season, it wasn’t the first state title of his career.
The coach has won more than 700 games and three Florida state titles as a baseball coach, and it was for that sport that Brown came to White County in the first place.
In the summer of 2005, Brown and his wife, Brenda, were vacationing in the Georgia mountains with an eye on finding a place they would like to move. It just so happened that at the same time, White County was looking for someone to take over a floundering baseball program.
Brown interviewed, was hired for the position, and coached his first baseball season in Cleveland the next spring.
After coaching that first season, Brown decided to help out with the junior varsity softball team during the fall of 2006.
The coach of the varsity squad left the team during that season, forcing the junior varsity coach to take over. After the season was complete, Brown was asked if he would take over as the coach of the Lady Warriors.
“The superintendent walked up to me and asked me if I would do it,” Brown said. “And I said sure, if no one else is going to, I will.”
That decision has paid dividends for the school; he might not have planned it, but Brown has built a program which can be successful for a long time.
After all, a winner breeds winning and Brown is certainly a winner.