The Central Islip community created a petition to rename Central Islip High School after the passing of Football Coach and Gym Teacher Andrew J. Brown III, who passed away on Feb. 7 at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson.
His death sent shockwaves and sadness throughout the entire Central Islip community. At this time, the cause of death is currently undisclosed. Dawn Haunt started an online petition on Change.org to rename Central Islip High School after Brown. The petition has around 483 out of the 500 signatures needed to reach their goal. There is another online petition posted by Justin Ramos to name a school facility after him which has garnered about 3,600 online signatures in just two weeks. The goal for these petitions is for an athletic facility, or the school, to be renamed in his honor because the high school football field is already named to honor someone else. It’s likely that the middle school gym or football field will be named to honor Coach Brown. This just goes to show you how many lives and people he has impacted.
“The past few years were not easy for him,” said Ramos, a former student and close friend of Brown. “Yet his inner strength kept his feet chopping. Even on his worst days, he ensured to be there for a student game or training. Although he didn’t have children, his support and love for students, [he] was like a second father. His presence alone radiated strength into all students.”
He has personally impacted myself and helped shape me into the man I am today. Brown was my middle school football coach. He was hard on us in practice. I remembered saying to myself, “This guy is crazy for making us do all these intense workouts,” but I realized he was preparing us for life outside of sports because life is hard. He was always amped up in practice, but always cared about us as if we were his own children. Throughout my time getting to know him, he was like a big soft teddy bear who you could have a conversation with about anything and he would give you the best possible advice.
There was one time I can remember when I tried out for the basketball team back in seventh grade and the final cuts were posted by the gym. I saw Brown and he said, “You tried out.” I replied back “Yeah I did, they posted final cuts.” I was nervous as hell because I didn’t know if I made the team. He offered to go up to the list and read who made the cut. He told me I unfortunately didn’t make it.
He put his hands on my shoulder and said, “It’s okay to be sad, that’s life, sometimes you gotta get knocked out, you gonna fail, but that’s how you learn, that’s how you get better. You are going to fall and fail. It’s about how you get up and what you do after you get up.”
Those words of encouragement really motivated me and he even advised me to join the team as a manager so I can get to know the coach and players. With the experience I gained, I was on the team the following year and I owe that all to him.
Throughout his teaching career, Brown has taught at Francis J. O’Neil Elementary School, Cordello Avenue Elementary School, Charles A. Mulligan, Ralph G. Reed Middle School and Central Islip High School. He started coaching football in 1996 at John Adams High School in Queens and then in Central Islip from 2002-2018. He was the head junior varsity coach from 2008-2012 and he was the first Black middle school head coach in Central Islip from 2014-2016 and even helped put two Central Islip alumni, Andrew Tiller and Malcom Pridgeon, in the NFL. Early in his career before teaching, he was a counselor at St. Mary’s Child and Family Service and a counselor at Brentwood group homes.
K.K. Rountree, a graduate from the class of 2008 from Central Islip, who played for Coach Brown, talked about the impact he had on him.
“He made me realize that everyone needs some kind of help or support,” said Rountree. “He’s the reason I became a football coach. I always wanted to help people and Coach Brown showed me how to do that through football.”
Thanks to his teaching, Rountree is now a special teams quality control coach at the University of Connecticut.
“As a community, we find it appropriate for the Central Islip school district to honor The Andrew J. Brown III, Facility, which will match his grand influence among Central Islip school district scholars,” said Ramos.
Hundreds also feel the same way as they have commented and said nothing but great things about Brown.
“This needs to happen,” said Nyree Walker. “This man has been the true definition of love personified. Honor him, and his work, make it official.”
Brown was peacefully laid to rest Friday, Feb. 19 at Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Central Islip. There is also a memorial at the Central Islip High School football field where people have decorated the fence with messages, flowers, candles and footballs to show their respect and love for everything he has done for people in the community.
He will forever be missed and remembered not just as a coach but as a son, brother, friend, mentor, role model and teacher.