BY JOSH SIGLER KOKOMO TRIBUNE
---- — RUSSIAVILLE — For the first time since the Carter administration, Western High School has a new baseball coach.
Former Panthers diamond standout Quentin Brown was approved as the new skipper at Western’s school board meeting Tuesday night, 6-0. Board member Donna Shepherd abstained from voting due to the fact that she had family members on the same list of candidates up for board approval as Brown.
“This is something that, honestly, I have worked for for many years now,” Brown said. “I paid my dues and put in my time, tried not to get there too quickly while developing my coaching philosophy and everything I stand for. I’ve really put in everything I’ve done to be able to get to this position. What better place than my alma mater and a program with the legacy that it has?”
Brown takes over for coach Ty Calloway, who retired two weeks ago following his 36th season as head coach. Brown played for Calloway from 2002 to 2005.
“First of all I can’t say enough to thank Ty for all of his years of service and for building Western’s baseball program,” Western High School principal Rick Davis said. “The respect for him is immense and will continue forever. Western baseball will always be associated with Ty and what he’s given us. Quentin is a product of Ty. Quentin played baseball here and is Western through and through. His baseball knowledge is immense, and I think it’s going to be a great transition from coach Calloway to coach Brown.”
Brown was a three-time all-Howard County honoree during his prep days at Western, culminating with a nod to the Indiana All-Star team’s north squad in 2005.
Brown continued his baseball career at IPFW, where he was a four-year letterman for the NCAA Division I Mastadons from 2006-09.
He spent his first two years after college at Garrett High School, where he was an assistant baseball coach under Cisco Mireles.
Brown returned to Western and was an assistant under Calloway on the Panthers’ 2012 Class 3A state championship team. He is a social studies teacher at the high school.
“That’s where it needs to be in a sense, someone who understands the program and understands the community and school,” Brown said after being asked what it mean to him to keep the program in the hands of a Western alum. Calloway was a Western product in his own right.
“I thank God I’ve had some success here in the past as a high school student. Going off and playing college baseball and now coming back and having a chance to be the head of the program makes me excited to continue the legacy that was built before I played, while I played and afterwards. I’m excited to keep that going. It really helps having been here the last couple years and knowing some of the kids who’ve played underneath us as a coaching staff already. It shouldn’t be too hard, but I’m just anxious and ready to get going.”
Calloway finished his coaching career with a 662-301 career record for the Panthers. In his 36 years as the skipper, the Panthers won 16 Mid-Indiana Conference, 16 sectionals, six regionals, one semistate title and the 2012 3A state title, seemingly setting the bar pretty high his eventual successor.
“There’s no way I can live up to what he’s built,” Brown said. “My only [hope] is to keep it afloat. [Calloway] has built up an amazing program. I’ve played for him. He’s a hall of fame coach. Everything he did was committed to excellence. My big thing is to come in and continue to build it higher in my own fashion. There’s nothing I can say that’s going to rival or top coach Calloway. I have all the utmost respect for him as a coach, but also as a former player of his who helped me achieve my dreams of getting to the next level. All I can do to repay him is to keep the program going and continue the success we’ve had.”
Brown helped Western win sectional and regional titles in 2004. He had two walk-off hits — an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh against West Lafayette in a sectional semifinal game, and a homer in the bottom of the eighth against Blackford in a one-game regional. He batted .500 (9 for 18) with three homers in five tourney games that year.
Also at Tuesday’s school board meeting, it was announced that Western athletic director Ryan Berryman has requested a reassignment, ending his two-year tenure as the AD.
“Fortunately I’ve had the privilege of working with great ADs — for different reasons — in the past,” Davis said. “We’re going to miss Ryan’s passion and dedication for Western. Fortunately, that will carry over into the classroom.”
Berryman likely will be reassigned as a social studies teacher within one of Western’s secondary schools (high school or middle school). The search for a new athletic director will begin promptly.
“The challenge is always finding the best candidate,” Davis said. “I’m confident the programs we have here at Western will bring in top-notch candidates. It’s going to be a goal to find somebody who sees what Western stands for and wants to continue the history of excellence in all that we do.”