TNCC Basketball Coach Armand Brown (Photo courtesy of TNCC Athletic and Intramurals Office)
The death of Thomas Nelson Community College basketball coach Armand Brown shocks the Peninsula sports family
by Jim McGrath, recruit757
The local sports community on the Virginia Peninsula was stunned to wake up on Saturday morning and learn of the passing of Thomas Nelson Community College men’s basketball coach Armand Brown.
Brown was just two days short of his 40th birthday, which would have been on September 17.
Brown had started out as an assistant head coach at TNCC, but moved into the head position, eventually assisting as the school began making its transition from club play to NJCAA Division 3 status. Baseball and women’s basketball were the first two sports to join the NJCAA, and the men’s team is looking to complete the move in the near future, but probably in conjunction with the addition of a women’s sport, such as tennis or volleyball, in order to stay within Title IX guidelines.Brown was no stranger to local basketball circles. Known as “Ant” to his many friends, he was a shooting guard on the 1997 state championship Hampton High team which also featured Ronald Curry and Bobby Blizzard. While he bypassed a chance to play for East Carolina to stay closer to home, it wasn’t long before his playing and coaching careers resumed, both at Thomas Nelson. After playing two seasons for the Gators club team, Brown was contacted by his TNCC coach and current basketball operations manager Angela Jackson, who told him that she needed help coaching the team. Although Brown had never coached before, he jumped at the challenge, and in late 2001, began a 17-year coaching career that was tragically cut short.
Jackson, reached on Saturday afternoon, said, “He cared for the players deeply. The relationships formed have been life changing for so many young man and ladies that it’s so hard to gauge. But Coach Armand will forever be a cornerstone in the history of Thomas Nelson’ basketball program.
She added, “I’ve lost not just a tremendous coach and friend, but a son and the loss that will be felt by the hundreds of students who were fortunate to have him a part of their athletic experience at Thomas Nelson is too numerous to count. He is a legend to them. It was his passion to teach the game of basketball. We spoke on this past Wednesday about preparing for the upcoming season. My heart is very heavy.”
Added TNCC athletic director Chad Smith, “He was a big brother and mentor to all of the players he came into contact with, and gave many the opportunity to continue playing basketball after their high school career.”
His learning curve as a coach was steep. In 2006, he told Dave Fairbank of the Daily Press, “It’s been a real learning process. Instead of being a player, I had to learn how to adjust to different people and different situations. I had to be able to communicate what I wanted done instead of just doing it myself.”
The Gator team, facing NJCAA competition, as well as other club and military teams, struggled in the past two seasons, but was beginning to make progress with the news of its impending elevation to Region 10 of the NJCAA, where it will get the opportunity for post-season play and a chance to build in-state rivals with schools such as Bryant & Stratton and Northern Virginia Community College.
At this time, it is believed that Brown’s cause of death was a heart attack. He was involved in a one-car accident in Newport News on Saturday morning. Brown was wearing his seatbelt. News about his arrangements will be posted as they become available.
– Jim McGrath