SHARON — In his high school days, Lou Brown found a mentor in former Sharon basketball coach Brian Hoover. Finding an “older guy” gave Brown someone he could turn to when dealing with life or sports.
“I felt like I never had that older guy until I came to Sharon and met a coach, Brian Hoover,” Brown said. “I never had someone I felt like I could go to and talk to about personal problems, basketball or school.”
The Sharon City School District Board of Education voted to make Brown the next Tigers boys basketball head coach Monday evening. Now Brown has his chance to step into those same shoes Hoover wore years ago.
Brown, a former Tigers standout, was in attendance for the vote. He had spent the past 11 seasons as a middle school coach and assistant with Sharon.
“I would say that after the last week when I knew that I’d be [the head coach], it didn’t feel real,” Brown said. “Now that they’ve officially voted and I’m official, it feels real. It feels great to come back and be running the program now, especially one that I played for.”
Brown said the reality of his new title hit him slightly following the vote. But he said it might not become apparent until the start of the 2022-23 season.
He is replacing Zach Sarver, who stepped down after seven years coaching Sharon. Brown sat on the sideline with Sarver the past seven years.
The time with Sarver helped prepare Brown for his newest position. He credited Sarver and current Hickory football coach Bill Dungee for passing along the importance of skill work and attention to detail, not just focusing on strategy.
“I thought I knew basketball seven years ago when [Sarver] came in, and when he came in, I found out I didn’t know basketball as well as I thought I did,” Brown said. “He’s a great, great mentor and somebody I was glad I could coach with the last seven years.”
Brown’s goal his first year is to establish a fun, family-like culture. He wants the players to enjoy themselves while playing high school ball competitively, but he also wants them to look out for each other.
In a way, the groundwork for the “family” environment played a part in Brown becoming the new coach.
When Brown heard of Sarver’s departure, he wanted to throw his hat in the ring. The 30-year-old assistant had the support of the Sharon players, and some members of the community threw his name out on social media as a potential candidate.
He thought he’d get some support after applying for the job. But he admits that it was a surprise to see the backing he received. The encouragement from community members and players helped give Brown confidence while going through the interview process.
“I’m very thankful for that and the people in the community [that] wanted me to be ‘that’ guy,” Brown said. “It was very surprising, and I didn’t even expect that much support from the community and the kids and my mentors and the people around. I didn’t think I’d get that much support. I knew I have a little here and there, but the amount of support I got, I didn’t expect that.”
Brown believes his tenure as an assistant coach and his time as a Sharon Tiger played a part in obtaining his new position. He said the members of the school district might see him as “one of their own.”
Some time has passed since Brown ran up and down the court for the Tigers. But now he has an opportunity to become a mentor for the next generation of Sharon athletes.
“I didn’t know [coaching] would take me this far, to me really being in touch with guys’ lives and younger kids’ lives and peoples’ lives, coaches ... ya know, losing sleep over something that happened in a game or a player telling me something that happened,” Brown said. “I never thought I’d get into it that deep, but that’s what I’m in it for. ... That’s what I’m in it for, young men coming up and trying to be a helping hand and guide them in sports or just life.”