Bay City’s Marshall Brown looks back on coaching as he turns 84
If there was one thing Marshall Brown wanted his athletes to remember it was to never give less than their best, whether it’d be on or off the field (or track).
“I want [my former athletes] to feel like they’ve done as well as they could do; that they’ve done the best in both in and out of athletics,” Brown said. “There’s a correlation between a coach and being an athlete and being a citizen. I feel like that’s really the key.”
The legendary former Bay City track and field and football coach reflected on that and much more.
Brown, who will be turning 84 this month, has coached many Bay City athletes who have gone on to the pros while even some have competed in the Summer Olympics. In addition, he’s also worked with other legends including Paul “Bear” Bryant.
“I have to admit, it gives you a little bit of pride,” Brown said. “One that you not only worked with them but hopefully you’ve added to their accomplishments and helped them grow to be good people.”
Among those he coached is Simon Fletcher, who played linebacker for the Denver Broncos from 1985-1995 before retiring. Fletcher compiled an NFL career that included 929 tackles, 97.5 sacks and 20 forced fumbles after being drafted in the second round of the 1985 NFL Draft out of the University of Houston.
Fletcher, who is the all-time leader in sacks at Denver and appeared in three super bowls, will be enshrined in the Broncos’ Ring of Fame later this year.
“I’ve been blessed as a player and as a student as a coach many times because of great people,” Brown said. “We had a great fellowship of Christian Athletes here that I have coached during my time, including Simon Fletcher.”
Fletcher, or as Brown nicknamed him “Tree,” joined the track and field team at Bay City midway through his junior year. He threw the shot and discus as well as anchoring the 4x100 relay.
Another notable athlete that Brown has coached in Bay City was Joe DeLoach. The sprinter won gold for the United States in the 200 meters at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. DeLoach bested well-known speed man Carl Lewis with a time of 19.75 seconds.
“When Joe came out of junior high, the coaches thought he’d never be an athlete,” Brown said. “With Joe, he was a different kind of person. He progressed and progressed. He’s the only athlete to get three gold medals in the international competition before the Olympics.”
Olympic champion Joe DeLoach is equally as fond of his high school track coach, referring to him as more than a coach and mentor, but as a father figure.
“Coach Brown had a profound influence on me, not just as an athlete but as a individual,” said DeLoach. “From my perspective, all of the coaches I’ve had the opportunity to be under their leadership and influence, he was bar none the most influential in my life. He played an integral role in me becoming an Olympic champion.
He was the first to recognize my potential. The coaches I worked with later were working with the product of Coach Brown.”
Brown continues to live in Bay City with is wife Kay, who he married in 1957. He also stays in touch with his former athletes.
“What’s great is that they’ll come back and they’ll call him,” Kay said. “Joe once brought us back t-shirts from the Olympics which is pretty awesome.”
Brown coached the Bay City boys to three state championships (‘79, ‘84, ‘90) at the Texas UIL State Track and Field Meet during his tenure.
As a high school athlete, Brown competed football and track and field while growing up in Wisconsin where he set a regional record in the discus throw with a toss of 141’6.
He joined the military after graduating from high school and served in the Army as a paratrooper.
He entered the third Army Olympic Trials in the hammer throw event in 1952.
In 1954, Brown received a football scholarship to the University of Alabama where he also participated in track.
After graduating from college, he became a graduate assistant under the head football coach just as Paul Bryant made his way to Tuscaloosa.
“It was a new situation every day because of the way (Bryant) organized things,” Brown said. “We would sit at a table and he would give us a situation and get everybody’s idea on how to handle it. He would say ‘Okay, that’s how we’ll do it.’ He kind of knew in his mind what he wanted to do to handle the situation, but he would get everyone’s idea and sometimes he’d use one. It was as much of an educational year as possible.”
Even being retired, Brown has still managed to stay busy.
Brown retired from coaching in 1997 but continued as a volunteer track and field coach up until two years ago when he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer.
“I enjoyed working with younger people who cared and were willing to go the extra step,” Marshall said.
He has been enshrined in numerous hall of fames from the Bay City High School Hall of Fame to the Texas High School Coaches Hall of Fame and the Gulf Coast Scholastic Track and Field Coaches Association’s Hall of Honor Class just to name a few.
“Anytime that you’re honored, you have to realize that it involves the people around you. It’s not just you, it’s those who got you there and handled all of that,” Marshall said.
From the laundry list of everyone that he’s coached and worked with and his team’s accomplishments, he says each and every single one equally stands out, saying that every one of them has been a blessing.
He’s also quick to give credit to his wife for the support he’s received over the years.
“I have to give credit to my wife. You don’t make it on your own. She’s put up with it for years with me being away and working with young people and spending more time with them and not enough time with my family,” said Brown.