At the May 2019 Washington Secondary School Athletic Administrators Association (WSSAAA) conference, Squalicum High School athletic/activities coordinator Patrick Brown was honored with the Athletic Administrator Service Award for the 2018-19 school year. This award is in recognition of his numerous positive contributions that enhance the interscholastic athletic programs at the local, league, district and state level. His colleagues who nominated him acknowledged his great integrity, his passion for sportsmanship and his overall leadership doing what’s best for students.
Brown was a three sport athlete (football, basketball and track) in high school and began his career as a social studies teacher at Nooksack Valley High School where he also served as assistant coach for track and field. He moved to La Conner High School where he taught social studies and was the head football coach. During his stint in La Conner he also coached basketball, wresting, baseball and track and field. When he arrived in Bellingham Public Schools in 2009 as activities/athletic coordinator, he brought many years of teaching and coaching experience with him.
We caught up with Brown and asked him a few questions in response to his years in education and his recent award.
What bigger role do sports play in student lives? Some value other than winning?
Brown: Our athletic programs are an extension of the classroom. Our kids learn so many valuable lessons when they are a member of one of our programs. They learn teamwork, communication skills, the value of integrity and sportsmanship, time management, perseverance, respect, mental toughness and overcoming adversity. We also build our programs around the whole development of our student-athletes. Our coaches care about them as people first.
Is there a touching story to tell from this year or a recent year which demonstrates this?
Brown: So many stories! I don’t know if I can pick just one. Actually there was a random connection with a former Nooksack Valley student just a few weeks ago. I walked into a convenience store and I heard this booming voice say Mr. Brown! Despite the heavy beard I recognized the (now) man immediately. He asked how I was doing and joked that I really kicked his butt in high school. (He was a wrestler at Nooksack that I helped.) After we got caught up he thanked me for helping him so much in high school. He stated that he probably wouldn’t have made it though high school without me. Needless-to-say I was floored and honored by his comments.
What keeps you doing this activities/athletics work?
Brown: Several things. I just enjoy helping kids navigate life and help prepare them for life beyond high school. I love watching their growth over four years. I love watching them evolve as bright-eyed freshman to confident and mature seniors. I love watching their development as leaders, not only on their teams but also in school. I also love receiving a letter or email from a former student thanking me for helping them during their time at Squalicum. Every time I receive one I am re-energized! I cherish the times when my former La Conner football players call me to ask for advice, or email to let me know that they are getting married or having a baby. It means so much to me that they still value our relationship.