Carlton Brown was trying to do it all, but it was just too much.
The 41-year-old was coaching football, working as a middle-school guidance counselor and adjunct professor and supporting his chronically ill wife, Kimberly, who has periodic appointments at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Something had to give, and Brown decided it would be football. So he stepped down as head football coach at Dover High School on Thursday.
“I know that I’m leaving a really good football team behind,” Brown said Friday. “But in the bigger scheme of things, I love my wife more. I need to make sure that I can give her what she needs.”
Brown coached the Senators for eight years, compiling a 45-37 record. Dover made the playoffs twice in his tenure, reaching the Division I semifinals last year.
The Senators began this season ranked No. 1 in Division I by The News Journal, but played a very difficult schedule and finished 4-5. All of Dover’s losses came to teams that reached the Division I state tournament.
“We had kind of talked about some of the challenges he was facing, his personal situation,” Dover athletic director Jeff Savage said. “I wasn’t altogether surprised by it. … This was 100 percent Carlton Brown’s decision. If Carlton Brown had wanted to, he would still be the football coach at Dover High School.”
Brown has worked as a guidance counselor at William Henry Middle School for nine years. He was asked to take a job as a high school counselor, but decided to remain in his current job and focus more on his family, which includes a son attending Wilmington University and a daughter at Delaware State.
“A lot of things have changed in our lives,” Brown said. “Before [Kimberly] got sick, she was a teacher, she was the band booster president, she worked with my [football] boosters, she was active in her sorority. She was so active, and to have all of that taken away really changed a lot in all of our lives.
“I didn’t want to take on any more than I’m dealing with right now,” Brown added. “As much as I love coaching, I had to look at the bigger picture.”
Brown will continue serving as an adjunct professor, teaching graduate courses at Wilmington University, and is working toward a doctorate through online courses at Walden University. As you would expect from a man so focused on education, he is most proud that the Dover football team increased its graduation rate and decreased summer-school attendance during his tenure.
Brown said 38 of his former players earned at least partial college scholarships. Trip Thurman (Florida) and Kamal Abrams (Connecticut) went on to play Division I college football.
“Trip just texted me today and said, ‘Coach, you made the right decision, and you’ll always be my coach and I love you,'” Brown said. “To see that come across your phone, that means a lot.”
Savage said Dover will begin the search for a new coach immediately. Brown said the Senators had a strong junior class this season, and he believes the new coach will be stepping into a good situation. He also said he still loves high school football, and would love to return to the game as an assistant coach in a few years.