Briarwood coach recovering from heart attack

Published 2:59 pm Tuesday, January 13, 2009

If turning back the calendar were an option, Briarwood Christian girls’ basketball coach Jim Brown was probably ready to do so last week.

After Brown had trouble sleeping and not feeling well to start the year, his Lions lost a pair of games Jan. 2-3 in the Metro Jefferson County Tournament. That Saturday night, he found out what he thought was either indigestion or the start of the flu was a heart attack.

“I’m not sure what it is, but I didn’t feel good,” said Brown.

He decided to drive himself to the doctor after losing to Mortimer Jordan, 64-63, in overtime. After an EKG, he was rushed to St. Vincent’s where he had a stint put into an artery that was 100 percent blocked. He also suffered a minor stroke while in the hospital

The night he was admitted, a text message went out to his team from assistant coach Lori Kerley.

“When I got the text I was really worried. He’s like a dad to us. He’s an awesome guy, great man, great coach. It was really hard to hear that,” said senior guard Lauren Parks.

But when Kerley relayed Brown’s message that the loss had nothing to do with the heart attack, Parks admitted she laughed.

“Of course he knew we’d think that,” Parks said.

“I thought that was important (for them to know) that it didn’t have anything to do with a turnover,” Brown said. “There really wasn’t anything, there wasn’t any symptom that was anything like what I’d read about.”

The heart attack helped provide an extra motivation for Briarwood as it beat John Carroll, Chelsea and McAdory in its first three games without Brown.

“Coach Brown has been our motivation. We don’t want to lose. We want to be better than we were, so when he comes back we can pick it up right where he left off and be ready to go,” senior Amy Hale said.

That return can’t come soon enough for Brown, who said he is feeling much better now resting at home. He hopes to attend practice this week and begin teaching classes next week. As for coaching though, he’s doesn’t want to over do it too soon.

“I haven’t missed very much in my years. It was hard being at home,” said Brown, who went home from the hospital Friday.

Kerley has stepped in and is 3-0 as a varsity head coach now.

“She pushed us,” senior Becca Stephenson said. “She probably works us out more than coach Brown even.”

Brown said having Kerley lead the team has made the absence easier.

“Lori’s done an outstanding job,” Brown said. “She has them playing well … that’s taken a huge burden off of me.”