Tew came to WC from Montana and knew very few people. He relied on Brown for some guidance, and of course the coach was right there.
“I showed up about two or three days after class started and I just parked outside his office,” said Tew, who now lives in Lipan. “He walks up and says, ‘You must be that kid from Montana.’”
John C. Brian competed for Brown while rodeo was still a club sport, but he could tell it was on the cusp of moving to a new level. He still belongs to the booster club.
“I believe in the program, and I do whatever I can to help,” said Brian. “I’ve known Mike since I was 13 or 14. He’s always trying to help somebody. He gives and gives.”
Savannah Todd is currently in her third season on the team, spending two years competing for Brown before Johnny Emmons took over as coach. She said meeting Brown was meeting a friend for life.
“He’s just a good guy. He doesn’t have this ‘I’m your coach’ style about him,” said Todd. “We’d sit and talk about rodeo or class, and he’ll always help any way he can.
“And he’s always open just for conversation.”
Brown’s quiet charisma and the steadily-rising success of the program made athletes from all over want to come to WC.
“Those guys he brought from Hawaii brought their own horses,” said McKinley with a chuckle.
Brown also brought Emmons to the program one year after it became a college scholarship sport. After seven years as an assistant, Emmons took over as head coach this season.
But Emmons said much more than mentoring him as a coach, Brown and his wife Sheryl were more like parents.
“This opportunity came at a time in my life when I wanted to slow down,” said Emmons, who had been competing professionally.