Former principal soared for Gulf Coast

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 1999

J. O. &uot;Obie&uot; Brown did not have to be led around the Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College campus when he received a scholarship in 1930.

That’s because Brown’s parents, J.W. and Eva Brown, were teachers at the junior college and lived on campus.

A former Natchez principal, Brown attended Home Vocational High School just east of Wiggins where he helped lead his high school team to the regional finals, losing to Gulfport.

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Basketball was the only sport at Home Vocational.

Despite playing only basketball in high school, Brown went on to star in football, basketball, baseball and track at Mississippi Gulf Coast.

He was good enough to win the All-Around Best Athlete Award at the school.

&uot;I guess I&160;just had a lot of ahleticism,&uot; Brown said. &uot;And I had a ball in my hand year round.&uot;

Brown would go on to receive five letter at Southern Mississippi (then called State Teachers College, playing football, basketball, baseball and tennis.

Brown played end on the football team.

&uot;I think my most memorable game was as a sophomore when I ran down the line at about midfield, caught a pass and went 50 yards to score a touchdown against Poplarville,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We ended up beating them 7-0.&uot;

Brown played first base in baseball as Gulf Coast won the state championship two straight years.

&uot;My biggest highlight there was hitting a home urn to put us in the state championship game,&uot; Brown said.

Brown was named All-SIAA as a forward in basketball. The six-footer averaged 15 points a game.

&uot;That was when you jumped center after every basket,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I think my speed was what helped me to play well.&uot;

Brown said keeping up with studies was tough, but otherwise playing four sports was not too difficult.

&uot;Each sport was a different kind of conditioning,&uot; Brown said. &uot;But it wasn’t tough to go from one sport to the other.&uot;

Brown said pro sports were just getting started, so he decided to get into coaching.

&uot;I would have loved to have had the chance to play pro ball,&uot; he said.

Brown went into coaching, and even worked with the late A.I. Rexinger at Gulf Coast. Both would eventually end up in Natchez.

&uot;I&160;decided when I was a small kid that I wanted to be an athlete and a coach,&uot; Brown said.

Brown said football was his favorite sport to play and coach.

He coached several high school football and basketball championship teams at Big Eight Meridian High. He coached the late great Thomas &uot;Shorty&uot; McWilliams in both. Coach Brown’s Choctaw Conference experience included coaching both sports as well as Louisville and Mendenhell from 1948-51. He never a losing one.

&uot;I went to Bobby Dodd’s football camp and patterned myself after Dodd and Bear Bryant,&uot; Brown said.

While serving the Big Eight Coaches Association as Vice-President, Obie had the privilege of coaching Meridian High in Montgomery, Alabama’s prestigious 1943 Blue-Gray game against Atlanta’s Boys High — the only year high school teams played in that event. He was later Choctaw Conference Vice-President.

Brown was a school administrator in the Natchez-Adams public schools for 28 years.

He was inducted into the Mississippi Coaches Hall of Fame in 1978. And this year on Oct. 28 he was inducted into the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Athletic Hall of Fame during ceremonies on the Perkinston Junior College campus.

Brown and his wife Esta decided to live in Natchez after retiring from the Natchez school system.

&uot;We got tired of the moving around and really love it here,&uot;&160;he said.