Wins not everything for Baptist Hill coach struggling with loss of friends, mentor

HOLLYWOOD, S.C. (WCIV) -- Football is very important in the small town of Hollywood where the Baptist Hill Bobcats are a traditional 1-A power, but as Head Coach Marion Brown is keenly aware, it's not a matter of life and death.{}

"You have to keep in mind, these are little kids -- 14, 15, 16, 17 -- placing hope on them to win it's a game," Brown said. "It's serious that you want to win but it's not that serious because it's not life threatening."{}

Brown, a Charleston native, former NFL player and ordained minister in the AME church, lost friends and a mentor{}on June 17th when nine people were shot and killed during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church. He considered state Senator Clementa Pinckney and Rev. Daniel Simmons close friends.{}

"That was tough," Brown said. "I knew Rev. Pinckney well because when he was out at Mt. Orr AME Church in Hollywood we did projects together. Rev. Daniel Simmons was my mentor for nine years in the AME church. Rev. (Sharonda Coleman) Singleton and Depayne (Middleton-Doctor) are real close friends with my wife so it was very hard and very difficult. Mr. (Tywanza) Sanders and my eldest son grew up together."

So even in what is considered a rebuilding year for this year's Bobcats, Brown said just being on the field with his squad is helping him cope with an extremely tough summer that started with a phone call that would change the city forever.{}

"I couldn't believe it," Brown said. "It was one of those things, I heard it, got the call. I said, it can't be ... Not at the church, I saw it on the news. That's when it got real."

Simmons was a mentor to Brown.

"He was a super great guy, very committed and dedicated to the task and calling," Brown said. "A great man, I miss him already."

But Brown knows he's not the only one mourning. His players are looking to him for guidance and strength as well. But his team will play - and honor those fallen - with their heads high.{}

"It's amazing," Brown said. "It's awesome how the people of Charleston came together."

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