Silver Chips Online

Lax to the max

Science teacher and lacrosse lover will take the position of varsity lacrosse coach

By Allison Daitch, Online Managing Editor
December 1, 2010
In a nondescript third-floor classroom, science teacher Chris Brown practices the slow, calming process of tending to plants in preparation for his horticulture class. In the relaxed environment of the greenhouse, his mind drifts from his plants at Blair to broader environments - not an unusual train of thought for an Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science teacher. Brown's interests allow him to spend much of his time a mild-mannered, laid-back teacher. But in contrast to his behavior, Brown has an undying passion for the hardcore, fast-action sport of lacrosse.

Brown exhibits his love of science freely in his classes, but his passion for lacrosse is a new revelation for many Blair students. Colin Wiencek
Brown exhibits his love of science freely in his classes, but his passion for lacrosse is a new revelation for many Blair students.
Social studies teacher Robert Gibb has coached the Blair’s boys' varsity lacrosse team for the past 12 years, but when it came time for Gibb to make a change and pass on the title, Brown was chosen as Gibb's replacement. Brown applied and interviewed for the position during this previous summer, and to his surprise he was chosen for the job. "It was definitely an honor. I just couldn't believe it," Brown recalls.

After years of coaching the varsity team, Gibb knows his way around the sport. He's seen a lot of great plays and worked with many athletes, but he reached a point where both he and the team needed a change. Gibb is pleased to have Brown as his successor, and thinks Brown’s going to excel. "I think that he has all of the components needed to be a successful coach. He knows the game, is very enthusiastic, and will bring a fresh approach to Blair boys' lacrosse," Gibb says.

For the love of LAX

Out of all other sports, nothing compares to lacrosse for Brown. "Lacrosse is hands down my favorite sport. I love everything about it," Brown explains. Lacrosse has always been a huge part of his life, as he started playing when he was 11 years old playing in a Pee-Wee league. A friend’s dad sparked Brown’s interest in lacrosse, and he thought he'd try it out. It didn't take long for Brown to discover his love for the game.

Lacrosse became a large part of Brown's life long before the lax phenomenon hit. The sport used to be almost non-existent in American schools, but became popular in this area when Brown was growing up. In his hometown of Binghamton, N.Y., however, there was only one store, "Lax World," that sold any lacrosse equipment when he was in high school. Then word started to spread and now lacrosse is popular, which is a definite plus in Brown's mind. “Now it’s everywhere, in all high schools. It just came out,” he says.

The 2010 varsity boys' lacrosse team pose with former coach Robert Gibb. Courtesy of Silverlogue
The 2010 varsity boys' lacrosse team pose with former coach Robert Gibb.
But before lacrosse spread, Brown found his niche in the goalie position. He describes the goalie as the quarterback of the lacrosse team – the one who knows everything that's going on at all times. As the goalie, he could view the entire field of action and was able to appreciate the rhythm and beauty of the sport. "There's a certain finesse and skill required,” Brown says. “It's just so beautiful and rewarding."

Lacrosse has followed Brown for his entire life, no matter his age – with the exception of only two years. While Brown was in the Peace Corps before he came to Blair, lacrosse sticks were the items he missed most. Still, Brown has never let lacrosse stray too far from him, and now that he has the opportunity to coach at the high school he works at, he’s thrilled.

Big changes

Brown’s love of lacrosse strongly influences what he wants to get out of coaching. Unlike previous lacrosse coaches, Brown aims to trigger interest in the sport when kids are young so that their interest can then build. “I want to build fundamentals of lacrosse and a love of the sport at a younger age and get it to become a sport they love to play” Brown says. He hopes to connect with parents who have younger children and suggest enrolling their kids in a Pee-Wee league. "I want to get sticks in their hands when they're nine and 10," Brown says. Not only does he want to spread the word for other leagues, but Brown also hopes to form his own program for younger kids to create a love for lacrosse from the start. “I hope to build a program at a younger level. Start with the parents and start communication to hopefully start a Pee-Wee league,” Brown says.

This year, the boys' team has started independent winter workouts earlier than ever before. Courtesy of Guodong Fu
This year, the boys' team has started independent winter workouts earlier than ever before.
Brown believes he will bring a fresh outlook to Blair lacrosse. He hopes to create a strong foundation with his inspiration - helping to solidify it for the future. Varsity lacrosse player junior Langston Alexander says the team is starting their winter workouts much earlier than previous years as well as recruiting more freshman and sophomores. "We're starting on a good note, so it should be good," Alexander says. After already hosting two meetings to send out information about the upcoming season and winter clinics, Brown has a positive feeling about how his first season will turn out. According to Brown, the turnout for the meetings was so large that his biggest fear for the season is having to make cuts.

Strong reactions

After two successful meetings, the players are ready for the changes Brown will bring. “Brown really knows his lacrosse. I think he has a lot of potential,” senior co-captain Guodong Fu says. The members of the team look forward to working with Brown and the enthusiasm he will bring. That aside, lacrosse is one of the most dangerous high school sports according to ABC News, which means that injuries are unavoidable and can place strain on the team. Brown, however, feels otherwise and believes that avoiding injuries is all in the technique and following the rules. "It all depends on how you practice and the rules keep injuries from happening. Hopefully we will become a well-disciplined team," Brown says. Since keeping safe is all in the practicing, Brown is going to work hard to keep the team in line. Fu predicts that Brown will expect a lot more out of the team than they're used to. "I can't wait to see what Brown has for us," Fu says.

Despite the team’s enthusiasm about their new coach, it takes a while to learn your way around instructing the Blair team. Gibb thinks Brown was a good choice for the job, but he has some suggestions. "Coaching Blair boys' lacrosse necessitates patience, realistic expectations, and a lot of hard work," Gibb says.

And with such a promising season ahead, Brown is ready to take the reins. He's even prepared for the time consumption that comes with coaching. "My social life will take a hit, but it's completely worth it," Brown says. When spring finally approaches, a new era of Blair lacrosse will bloom – it's going to be a busy season for this laid back lax lover.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/10492