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North Clarion: ‘It’s Got to Be the Shoes’

FRILLS CORNERS, Pa. (EYT) – Veteran coaches have to be prepared for almost anything, and Mike Brown, 70, an assistant basketball coach at North Clarion, knew what to do when player Zeelan Hargengrader had to come off the floor when he had a shoe malfunction.

(Pictured above: Emergency shoe exchange between coach and player.)

“He blew out his left shoe, and I hollered at him when he came off the floor and asked him what size of shoes he had,” said Brown. “He said ‘11’ and (I) told him here you go, as I started to take off my shoes to give him.

“To be honest with you, he went back into the game and scored seven or nine points in a matter of a couple of minutes. He did well, and I turned to coach head coach Ewing Moussa and said it’s got to be the shoes.

“We had a little fun with that.”

Brown has always had a lot of fun and interest in coaching.

“It’s something I have done 46 years, most of my life. I’ve tried a couple of times to get out of coaching, but I haven’t done a good job of leaving.”

Brown joined North Clarion after retiring as a baseball coach at Clarion University.

Mike "Shoeless" Brown

Mike “Shoeless” Brown

“Steve Young, the superintendent at North Clarion, and I have been friends for a lot of years, and I called him to see if he was interested in me for any subbing. I signed on as a sub and first helped with baseball and then basketball. I’ve done baseball and basketball for the last couple of years. They kept me in coaching, and I’m thankful for him allowing it.”

Brown also coached at Redbank Valley in addition to his work at Clarion University and North Clarion. Brown also said his first coaching job was in the Jewish Congregational League in Pittsburgh in 1974 and 1975.

“My best friend in college was a kid by the name of Lou Krause. He lived in Squirrel Hill and was a member of their congregation. I was probably the first goy (a non-Jewish person) basketball coach in the league.”

Brown is probably best known for his time at Redbank Valley where he spent 25 years as the boys’ basketball coach, 23 as an assistant football coach, 19 as the head track and field coach, and eight as the baseball manager. He was hired at Redbank Valley in 1975 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh. He also taught and was athletic director at Redbank.

Brown obviously enjoys coaching.

“I just love coaching, and I love the teaching part of it, too. I love that I’m still around kids and teaching. It’s what I always wanted to do, and the fact that God has blessed me to keep going is beyond believable.”

Support from his family has always been a key ingredient for his coaching career.

“My wife Dianna has absolutely been supportive for this career. I always told her she knew I was a coach when she first got into this with me. She’s been supportive and my three daughters are amazing. Diana is the cheerleading coach at Clarion University, and she has 30 some cheerleaders and fitting them in during the pandemic, and I’m really proud of her.”