It’s weird how year’s later you can still feel a coach’s impact and how they changed your life whether they were around you for five years or five minutes. Brown and Korby did just that to me, in separate instances. I respected them both immensely and anyone who played defense at Dana during that time understands what I am talking about. Probably the same can be said for those players who played under them at Peru State.
A good friend of mine, Jody Phillips, was on the coaching staff after his playing career had ended due to injury. He knew I was unhappy because I was not playing and asked if I would consider moving positions to play defense. I said “sure” because I wanted to play but he warned me … “I don’t know what Coach Brown will think. He’s kinda got his guys but you never know.”
I later found out that in that Sunday evening’s meeting Brown was adamant against me making the move to defense. Korby and Jody told him to “give him a week.”
So on Monday I was told I was moving to defense. I grabbed my white jersey and went about my business as a linebacker. Oh yeah, this was 20 minutes before practice started that I found out.
I can still remember Korby and Jody writing on little sticky notes in the coach’s office the different types of coverage and blitzes that I had to know. My head was spinning to say the least.
Well, Hastings was good … VERY good. Marc Boerighter was a wide receiver for them (eventual NFL player) and Josh Miller was the quarterback (All-American QB). They put up over 700 total yards of offense on us. Most of that in the first and second quarter.
I can’t even remember the score, but I remember Jody coming over to me with his headset on in the second quarter and saying “Brown wants to see what you can do. Don’t worry you can’t do much worse than what has happened so far.”
In I went. I played the rest of the game. Had a lot of fun and pretty much just ran around like an idiot which given our play that day was about par for the course.
The next day Brown was walking into the coach’s office as I was leaving the trainers room for treatment. Brown said “Hey Chipper, come here.”
Brown had this way of communicating that I just loved. It was like being called over by your grandfather. You knew when he was talking it was typically something important or that he meant business. He grabbed my elbow with his right hand and looked me in the eye through his thick glasses…
The same could be said for his other Peru State counterpart Rondel Korbelik. Korby was the fiery coach that I loved. He said the right things when they needed to be said and had the respect of everyone on defense. Later my sophomore year I had a moment that made me realize that Korby “got it” as a coach and as a person. Of course it also involved Coach Brown.
He’d glance at it … then look up … he’d glance down again and back up. He did this for a minute until you could hear nothing in the locker room. He looked at Korby, Jody, and Coach Williams … then he looked at us and shook his head.
“Chipper, all I have to say is keep doing what you are doing. I don’t care about how you play football. You’ve got character and you’ve got class. That’ll take you farther than knowing how to play cover two or plug a gap.”
The most memorable was his talk to the entire team about Peru State College football and when they won the national title. The subject was all about how they “got it” as a team. They knew what it was going to take to get there and that team just “got it”. As a team at Dana we had players that “got it” too, but not everyone “get’s it” and those people needed to either “get it” or “get out”. The intensity in which he told the story of the guys coming together inspired a lot of us; at least the ones that “got it”.
I’m sure everyone reading this has had this experience. That coach or person that changed their lives or at least kept them pointing in the right direction. So I almost feel this obligation after all of these years to go to Peru State and see a game, just for the sake of history. For my own history and for two of the guys who meant so much to me as coaches.
I’ll end this “Rambling” paying homage to Coach Brown. The article is over and I’ve done everything I can do this week to prepare for the job I am about to do. Everyone have a great week …
“The hay’s in the barn fellas … nothing left to do now but stack asses.”