As AD, Evan Brown will bring new perspective to Madras

Photo Credit: JEFF WILSON/ THE PIONEER - Evan Brown, who coached basketball at Madras for 16 years, is back as the athletic director. Just a week on the job, he is already ready getting a feel for what needs to be done.After 16 years coaching basketball at Madras High, Evan Brown left to pursue a career as an athletic director. On Aug. 11, Brown returned to MHS as its new AD.

With the 2014 fall sports season getting underway this week, the Pioneer’s sports editor Jeff Wilson sat down with Brown to talk about the transition back into Madras and what he would like to accomplish over the next few months.

When you saw the Madras job open up, was there an immediate draw to it for you?

There was an immediate attraction to it, put it that way. It’s just amazing how this community draws people in and the strength of the people in the community. One of the things that my wife (Amy) and I frequently talk about, is the people of Madras, and how we feel good, strong bonds and friendships with the people in Madras that we did not have, even after six years away in Stayton.

I would guess that makes for an easier transition?

I think it makes it a lot easier. Already knowing people in the community, already knowing and understanding some of the challenges they may have, and already knowing and understanding the people that are actively in your programs as well. I think all that stuff that comes under the “learning curve” I did all those years ago. It’s just reacquainting myself with who some of these people are, obviously, reacquainting myself with the kids once they get back to school.

I know it’s only been a week, but how do you feel about the sports department as a whole and what you've got to work with?

So far, I've really only met the fall sports coaches. I feel good about the people we have in place for our fall season. We got to spend a few hours in a vehicle on our way to meetings (last week) and there were some good conversations. Some good opportunity to catch up, and also some good opportunities for me to bounce some athletic philosophy type things off of them.

You've been an AD before, and you've been at this school before, still, this is a new situation for you. What are your main goals to start?

My first goal is to find out where we are at. Where are we, as far as an athletic program? Where are we with our character education? Where are we as far as teaching values to our student athletes? We are an interscholastic athletic program and winning is important to us and establishing those winning traditions are important. But even more important, is the things that kids get out of it, the lifetime skills, their life long skills, their character and their values. The wins are the byproduct of those other things. My hope is to find out quickly where we are at with that stuff, and to continue that growth, wherever that may be.

Do you consider yourself a hands-on AD? How do you approach the job?

I’d say yes and no. I’m hands-on, but I’m behind the scenes. I’m hand-on with the coaches, because I feel like my job is to teach and mentor those coaches, who are teaching and mentoring our kids. The coaches have that strong bond and relationship with the kids, without me seeing them on a daily basis; I don’t have that kind of bond with the kids. Now that my role has changed from a coach to an athletic director, it’s about having that bond with the coaches. Hopefully, I can encourage the growth with the coaches and have them always to be striving to get better at what it is they do. Wherever they are at, some of them have a long ways to go, some of them are at incremental strides to make. The big thing is we just want to get better at whatever it is that we do.

You have two coaching vacancies as you come in (track and swimming). Do you see these as pressing issues at this point?

Right now, we've got more important things to focus on. We've got to get our fall sports season up and rolling. We've got to get our middle school sports season prepared to get up and rolling for the fall. So those things, right now, are more pressing than taking care of those coaching responsibilities, although those responsibilities will get taken care up in the not too distant future. At least, that’s my plan.

I would imagine that you have kept up with Madras sports over the years. Do you feel that it is where it needs to be competitive-wise for this size of a school and the number of kids out for sports, or is that something you think the school could do better at?

I think, first of all, we need to find a way to attract more kids to participate. Our participation numbers are low for a school our size. We need to find a way to connect with our kids and get them involved in athletics, academics, clubs, activities. There has to be some way to get our kids involved in our school. To be able to have every slot on your tennis team filled, to have every position filled by an athlete in a track meet would be awesome. To have two full soccer teams, to have three full boys and girls basketball teams, to have all of our levels full of athletes would be awesome. I think getting those kids involved and hooking them into your program, hooking them into your school and the community is more important than wins and losses. With that hook, hopefully, the wins and losses will come from there.

It wasn't that long ago that the golf program here had great success, and now it doesn't even exist. Is that something you would like to pull back in?

I would hope that there is a big enough demand to pull it back. I would hope that we have enough kids that would want to participate in a program like that, that they would almost demand that we pull it back in. I want more opportunities for kids. I want to promote opportunities for kids. But we have to have enough kids to be fiscally responsible with it.

Do you think that starts at the middle school level or do you go below that to try and get them interested in sports?

I think you have to generate an interest, but on the other hand, you have to generate that interest, but not specialize in a community of our size. If you specialize in a community our size, it affects our whole athletic program. I’m not interested in being a ”golf school,” I’m interested in being a quality athletic program. And I think that comes from our kids participating in a multitude of sports and being involved in a multitude of sports. When some of our best athletes are only in one sport, that hurts our other programs and it hurts that athlete. They are more prone to over-use injuries and more prone to burnout. And they are also more prone to the general dissatisfaction of where they are at. I would hope that we promote that multiple sport idea, start it at a young age and get our kids to experience a variety of sports.

What’s been the toughest thing so far?

Hitting the ground running. Right now, the toughest thing has been the lack of people around. The second toughest thing has been the people I’m running into; I've been having a great time catching up with, I really have been, and it’s been awesome to sit and chat or stand and talk with those people, but I’m not getting much done. But I would not trade that. I will work through the evenings versus cutting off conversations with people right now in relationships that I am enjoying.

Sounds like you are glad to be back.

I’m darn glad to be back. And I’m excited to be back, I really am.

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