Some athletes dream of becoming major sports stars. Others may ponder becoming a coach. While achieving this status can be relatively challenging, 24-year-old Danielle Brown is an exception to the rule. Brown is the student coach for the FAMU softball team, and she is putting her athletic skills to use.
“I knew that when I was younger I was going to become a coach,” said Brown, a constructional engineering student from Jacksonville. “It has always been in my heart.”
Brown started coaching two years ago after her winning season as a player on the softball team. She was one of the top players on the team for years and was also a part of the 2006 championship-winning team. During her time playing for the Lady Rattlers, Brown broke many records and still holds the record for strikeouts. In 2006, she had 530 career strikeouts in just four seasons of playing on the team. She even helped her team go undefeated in the regionals.
Janell Staton, the assistant softball coach, said Brown’s skills are unmatched.
“She is the strikeout queen,” Staton said.
Brown said helping to coach the team has been both fun and very rewarding. However, she said she misses being on the field.
“I love coaching and working with the girls,” Brown said, “but a part of me still wants to play.” Both the coaches and players conveyed they feel very fortunate to have her there coaching and bringing her knowledge of the game. Lori Goodart, the pitching coach of the team, said Brown is a valuable asset.
“I think she is doing a great job,” Goodart said. “You can really tell she has a lot of pride in the program.”
Goodart also said the team really responds well to Brown and that she was a highly respected athlete. Staton agreed, saying the players respect her knowledge.
“They can relate to coach Brown and they respond to her very well,” Staton said. “She’s like a buffer.”
Staton also said Brown is very passionate about softball. Many players have said she is someone they can look to for inspiration. Among these players is junior Alyssa Watts, a public relations student. Watts said Brown’s knowledge of the sport is very evident.
“She brings the experience of winning two championships and she really shows us how much effort we need to be the best because she is the best,” said Watts, 20, a Jacksonville native.
Watts also said Brown is a great motivator with a winning attitude.
Being both a peer and coach can sometimes lead to players not taking a coach seriously, but that is not the case for this team.
“I feel that the ladies definitely respect me and what I’m doing,” Brown said.
Staton also said the team’s respect for Brown is apparent.
“The ladies have plenty respect for her, and in some way she has become a teacher,” she said. “The girls are learning a lot from her.”
Brown said through coaching, she can take everything she learned and pass it down to her players.
“I feel that I am passing a tradition down to the players,” Brown said. “Everything I learned while playing in college I am now teaching my players.”