Pope John Paul II High head baseball coach Michael Brown informed his players that this will be his final season at the helm of the program following the conclusion of Friday evening’s doubleheader against visiting Brentwood Academy.
Brown is in his ninth season at PJP II.
“I love this institution and am very grateful for a wonderful nine years here,” Brown said. “I want to thank (former PJP II headmasters) Hans Broekman and Faustin Weber for giving me the opportunity and the great honor of leading this baseball program for nine years. I want to thank all of the former players, assistant coaches, parents, fans and supporters for all they did for the program during my tenure as the head coach.
“I will always have fond memories of these last nine years and look forward to the rest of a great final season this spring with this wonderful, current group of young men that I have the privilege to coach.”
PJP II has a 167-107 record during Brown’s tenure, and he has been awarded as the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Coach of the Year three times, twice reaching the Division II-Class AA State Tournament (2013 and 2015). On two other occasions, the program has reached the state quarterfinal round.
“JPII is thankful for Coach Brown’s nine years at the helm of our baseball program, and we wish him the best in his next endeavor,” Pope John Paul II High athletic director and assistant baseball coach John Dempsey said.
Brown announced his forthcoming resignation during the season in an effort to be forthright with his team.
“It was crucial to me that the players heard this from me directly,” Brown said. “I love these guys too much for them to hear this on the internet, social media or in the community. I would have preferred to wait until the end of the year to talk to our team, but it just wasn’t feasible.”
The Knights have an array of talent on this season’s squad, including Vanderbilt University commitment Mason Hickman (a junior pitcher) and University of Memphis commit Ben Brooks (a junior shortstop). Over Brown’s tenure, there has been a total of 22 players to sign or commit to play college baseball.
“We were all really surprised,” Brooks said. “We didn’t really know what to think. It sort of came out of leftfield for us. We were all just really shocked, because he had been there for us through thick and thin.
“He’s always been there for me. It’s sad to hear him go. I really wanted to play for him all four years. We’ve always had a really good relationship.”
PJP II fell to 9-9 overall and to 6-3 in the Division II-Class AA East/Middle Region with Friday evening’s doubleheader sweep at the hands of Brentwood Academy.
“He’s still our coach, and we’re going to play for him as hard as we can,” Brooks said. “I think we actually need to play even harder to make his last one as memorable as possible. I think we just need to rally around him. He said he was going to give it his all, and we trust in him 100 percent.”
Reach Craig Harris at email@example.com or at 615-575-7138. Follow him on Twitter @HarrisGNESports.