Numbers, Numbers, Numbers when you talk about longtime Centralia High School basketball coach Ron Brown there’s plenty of numbers to talk about from 0 to 1,263. 0 is the number of techniocal fouls ever called on him as his run of 56 years as the Tigers head coach. Then there’s 2 the number of State Championships he won as the lead Tiger in 1979 and 1981. 9 for the total number of state basketball trophies his teams added to the Tiger trophy case.

722 total career wins, 3rd all-time behind Ed Pepple’s 952 and Pat Fitterer’s 728. 1,263 is the total number of games Ron Brown coached as the Head Centralia coach and that is the most games ever coached by anyone in Washington State history.

But 1 is the most impressive number of all. Pepple won his 952 games with 3 different high schools, Fitterer coached at 5 different schools but Coach Brown spent all 56 years at 1 school, Centralia. In fact 58 years as he was an assistant for 2 years prior to taking over for the next 5 1/2 decades.

We have had a chance to talk with several former players, friends and fans of Coach Brown and the singular thing that is brought up by each one is caring. Coach Brown invested his entire life into coaching the Centralia Tigers and he once told me he isn’t about to throw that investment away because his players graduated. He continued to check in with players especially when he heard they may be going through a tough time.

Ron Brown, Janet Brown & longtime Assistant Larry Moellorstuen

His focus was on building a culture, a true family and create such an experience for each player that winning was secondary. Of course he played to win each game but he was even more concerned about winning the bigger game and that was to send off his players into their futures with a foundation of decision making, goal setting, working as a team and how to be a leader and role model.

I heard this from everyone we talked to about Coach Brown. The rest of this story is all from individuals who either were coached, coached with or coached against Coach Brown or worked with him and were touched by his greatness, kindness and friendship.

We will add to this story if additional comments come in as some were struggling to put their thoughts into words. If others would like to comment please send your comments to Paul@youresn.com and we will add them to this story. There will be a public service for Coach Brown on Saturday, July 27 at 1pm at Centralia High School.


Centralia’s State Championship win over Timberline in 1981 (full game)

1981 Post Championship Game Pics (Quality is from You Tube screen shots)

Pat Fitterer (Opposing Coach #2 all time in wins with 728)


Bill Bakamus, Retired Coach Mark Morris High School (#4 all-time winningest coach with 691 wins)

When I think of high school basketball coaches across the state of Washington, Coach Ron Brown is a man whose name quickly comes to mind.  I associate his name with greatness and grace. He was as well respected as any coach who ever roamed the sidelines and without a doubt is the “King” of Lewis County hoops.

Coach Brown’s legacy goes far beyond the x and o’s.  He displayed an amazing amount of class, integrity and was a true role model  in our profession. I always was honored to coach against his Centralia teams. Growing up in Lewis County everyone knew about Coach Brown. My first personal connection was experienced when I attended his Tiger Cage Camps. His laugh, smile and willingness to help you get better was unforgettable. He had a great way of being very hospitable and polite.

He used this tactic often when our Mark Morris and Centralia teams played, but once the game started,  Coach Brown was a very fierce competitor. As a young man I admired him profoundly. Coach Brown was quite influential in my decision to become a high school basketball coach.  His coaching longevity and success at only one high school is a significant milestone.  I know as their Coach, all Tigers felt his loyalty and commitment to their personal growth and success. Truly one of a kind! 


Chris Fast (Former Player)

I knew Coach Brown was having health issues and I have kept in contact with him ever since I played for him more than 30 years ago. The one thing that never left Coach was his mind. He was as razor sharp in his final days as he was 50 years ago. He could remember every player he ever coached, could tell you what they did after they graduated.

He had that famous dry wit and humor and he’d hit you with that when you least expected it. I would have to think about what he just said and then burst out laughing because he was so subtle.

His personality was subtle and subdued…at times. Yes, he never got a technical but that doesn’t mean it didn’t fire him up. He left that fiery side of himself for the team in our private moments and practices. He was a bigger than lifge personality but you had to know him to understand the force behind what many would believe was a simple mild mannered nice man.

I first got caught up in the Tiger culture as a 9 year-old in 1979 when Centralia won their first State Championship. I couldn’t wait to be part of Tiger basketball and saw first hand what Tiger Pride was all about. There were many Saturday morning’s of Tiger basketball for kids where Coach Brown would teach and coach along with the high school players. As a kid you couldn’t wait for Saturday mornings and as a high schooler you couldn’t wait to get out their with the next generation of kids living and breathing the Coach Brown way which was the Tiger way of hoops.

Coach always stressed what was important to being a successful player and included commitment, fundamentals, being a team player while being ultra competitive. He was a master at identifying the strengths of each player and putting them in a position to excell on those strengths. I remember some of my teammates would get after me because I was a physical player and would pick up fouls. They wanted me not to foul as much. Coach did not. He knew my strength was inside mixing it up and he planned on my fouls knowing how to capitalize on my style and did so by incorporating it into his game plan.

Coach Brown woould adapt his offense to the strengths of his players so some year’s it was bombs away from the outside and an up and down approach then some years it was ball control, slowing it down and pounding it inside. He was great at brining the best out of his players.

I learned so much from Coach and tools I still use to this day. Putting people in positions where they can grow and flourish using their strengths for the better good. It is difficult to think he is no longer a phone call away when I get challenged with something and could use his insight. But he left knowing he already gave me those tools and how to take on challenges. It is my duty as part of the Tiger culture to carry on what he began and I do so proudly and lovingly.

Coach Brown was my mentor, coach, teacher, friend and most of all family. I miss him but can’t be more thankful that I had the privilege to have him in my life. God Bless and all my love to Coach Brown and his family.


Marc Roberts (Former Player and Assistant Coach)

Coach Brown came into my life in 1968. I was in 3rd grade and went with a friend to Saturday morning basketball at the old high school. I wasn’t old enough yet to play so I sat on the sideline and watched. I took everything in and couldn’t wait to be old enough to play. Then the coach…Coach Brown saw me sitting there on the sideline watching. I think he could tell I wanted to play when he came over to me. I will never forget what he said, “Hey, do you want to play?”

I know my eyes got wide with the thought of playing but said I wasn’t old enough. Coach Brown looked at me and said, “I didn’t ask you that, I asked if you wanted to play?” Of course I said yes and he told me to get out on the court and from that moment on I was hooked, converted, sold a bill of goods whatever or however you want to say it didn’t matter to me then and doesn’t matter to me today. That singular moment I have no doubt put me on my course that I have followed all through my entire professional career through retirement to now me being a Grandpa.

Coach Brown ask me another question after I got finished with college and my baseball exploits and came back to teach at Centralia High School. He again simply asked, “Do you want to coach?” This time I knew I was old enough and immediately said yes. I waas very happy to coach the Freshman and C teams and to be part of Coach Brown’s staff. I went on to be the Head Baseball coach for many years and the working relationship I had with Coach Brown and at that time Coach John Schultz who was the Football head coach we worked together during the off-season as we shared many multi-sport athletes.

My coaching style although not identical to Coach Brown’s I took the most important things like creating that family culture and most of all making it fun. Coach Brown made everything fun including practice. Don’t get me wrong it was physical and intense but he made sure we learned and had fun at the same time. He told me once that if a player is having fun they are so much more likely to retain what we coach them. He said think about it, you want to do things that are fun and when it’s not fun you want to forget about it and move on so literally having fun was a huge part of his coaching style.

I was very proud to be part of the 1977 team that brought home an 8th place trophy. That really was a beginning as just 2 years later Centralia won the State Championship. I was always in awe of how he would adapt his offense to his players abilities. I remember being on the coaching staf when we had Lewis Lofton and Tracy Thomas where he literally made up a play for that duo based off his offense. He would make these type of adjustments on the fly at times.

But more than anything he loved his players on and off the court. I was honored to be part of many fireside chats with him and my colleagues and teamates where you just sat and listened. This is how sharp and invested in his players and friends at one the last fireside chats I was with him he was talking about when he was a baseball coach back in the 60’s. He pulled out a picture of that team and told us every players name, position and their strengths and weaknesses.

One last story on his ability to communicate with each player individually and knowing how to talk or get through to each individual. I was was not starting in basketball my senior year but was one of the 1st off the bench and it was the 1st year we had full sets of warm-ups. I would never take mine off until it was time to go in.

For some reason in this particular game I was just wound up and had a lot of nervous energy waiting to get my name called. Coach Brown shouts down the bench, “Roberts!” I get off and peel off my warm-ups and am ready to head to the scorers table when he said “hold on, sit down”. So I sat next to him and he handed me a pack of wintergreen lifesavers that he chewed on all the time. He said, “I’m too nervous open these for me”.

I looked at him and opened the lifesavors and sat there with a stunned look when he looked at me and said “don’t worry, you’re going in but I need you to go in with the right mindset. Then he did it again, “You wanna play?” He knew me better than I knew myself.

He and his family are part of this community, they are Centralia and I will miss Coach, I Love that man.


Randy Garland (Friend and scorekeeper)

Ron was a great man I knew him as a teacher, a customer, my boys coach, and mostly as friend. Beginning around 2010 a small group of us started to have lunch every Thursday and the group grew and still happens today. Ron always was a joy to sit a share a meal with, a great story teller and always wanted to know how everyone was doing.

Around the same time Ron asked me to take over the official scorebook for the basketball team a job I still hold today. I was lucky to see the behind the scenes of Ron as a coach something I will alway cherish. I miss him everyday.


Alex Alderson (Former Player)

As a player I always appreciated how he was straightforward and honest. I always knew where I stood with Coach Brown. There’s not another coach I had who I respected more than Coach Brown.

As I became older Coach Brown is the coach who I always tried to emulate when coaching my boys through the youth sports. Try and stay cool, calm, and collected no matter the situation or how much you might disagree with the officials or how upset you might be at a player. I know it’s cliché, but you couldn’t ask for anyone better to represent your team, school, or community.

Well after I was done playing, I realized how much Coach Brown cared for his players. All of his players. It didn’t matter if they were the superstar or the 12th guy on the bench. He always enjoyed hearing stories of former classmates and players and what they were up to.

It’s weird to think he’s gone. I always enjoyed talking with him and hearing his stories. He knew so much not just about basketball, but Centralia and the surrounding communities too. I will truly miss having those conversations with him.


By paulb

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