Tom Brown retired from coaching at the end of the last school year. Just a couple weeks into a new year, he wanted back in.
Houston surprisingly lost its boys’ basketball coach Oct. 10 when Dustin Kirkman resigned just three weeks before practices began.
Brown wanted to coach again. Houston needed a coach. It was a perfect match.
Brown, who coached the previous nine years at Meadow Heights High School in southeast Missouri, was hired Friday night during a special board meeting as the Tigers’ new coach. He was in town Tuesday morning and held a meeting with 40 prospective players.
Brown was one of three candidates interviewed for the position.
“I’m big into competition,” Brown said of returning to the sidelines. “I love to win and I love kids. I really do love seeing kids achieve.”
Brown inherits a HHS team that won three games last season. It’s not new territory for the veteran coach.
When he took over the Meadow Heights program in 2001, the team hadn’t won more than five games in the previous six seasons. Meadow Heights was a combined 17-120 during that stretch and hadn’t had a winning season in 11 years.
Brown’s first team went 15-11 and eight of his nine years were winning ones at Meadow Heights. His overall record was 127-91.
Even though he met his players just six days before practice and has never seen them play, Brown is confident he can do the same with the Houston program.
“The kids are the key — how hard they work,” he said. “I can come in and give them my philosophies. If they work hard, I told them I believe we’ll be successful.”
Brown’s philosophy is a simple one. His teams play fast and use a deep bench. He said he has molded his program after legendary Scott County Central coach Ronnie Cookson, who guided the Class 1 school to 13 state championships. Brown said he and Cookson are hunting buddies.
“It’s fast and furious,” Brown said. “We press from when the game begins until it ends, and we’ll play a lot of kids.”
Brown didn’t seem concerned that he is not familiar with his new players.
“The challenge is to learn their personalities and know what their weaknesses are,” he said. “The first week, we’ll be doing fundamentals and basketball skills to see where they are at. My program will stay the same, and I believe they will really love it.”
Brown said he isn’t committed to how long he plans to stay at Houston. No matter the length of his tenure, he hopes to bring the Tigers back to elite status. They lost won a conference title in 1989. The last district championship was 1984.
“I just want to see this program be one of the strongest in the area,” Brown said. “I believe we will accomplish that.”