Transcending Sport: Highland and Hillcrest Pay Tribute To Coach Brown

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Highland and Hillcrest players join hands to unite together for Coach Cazzie Brown.

Highland and Hillcrest players join hands to unite together for Coach Cazzie Brown.

Olivia Burkley

Olivia Burkley

Highland and Hillcrest players join hands to unite together for Coach Cazzie Brown.

Lindie Bell, Feature Editor

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Last night the Highland Rams beat the Hillcrest Huskies after an exhilarating game ending at 31-6. The rams played hard and performed well, although at the end of the night, the scoreboard was ignored, the touchdowns irrelevant, and competition was inapt. The two high school teams came together, unified to celebrate, mourn, and pay tribute to the late coach Cazzie Brown who passed away Sunday night, August the 27th — just five days before Friday’s game, involving the two schools he most recently coached.

“That was something that was special,” Coach Haws from Hillcrest said. Haws stepped in to coach last night’s game after the unexpected tragedy took place. Being a close friend of Brown, Haws was challenged to be strong enough to coach his team through such and emotionally trying time.

“It was incredible last night. Those [players] had dinner together like they’ve been knowing each other their whole lives. They had a rap battle, they had a dance battle, we ate, and the spirit in that room was all Coach Brown.”

As the players walked onto the field, two by two, a Husky and a Ram were together hand in hand. This act was an illustration of the unity and togetherness that overflowed the stadium last night, it was a tangible feeling of support for each other. Students, parents, teachers, and friends got chills when witnessing what was going on.

“It was two programs and he had a huge impact on both of them,” Highland’s Brody Benson said.

Coach Brown left a legacy at both schools, making the game even more packed with sentiment. Players kept Coach Brown in mind, with every pass, with every tackle, with every touchdown.

“It just shows the mutual respect that two teams can have for one another to come out and play a game and compete, and that has so much to do with Cazzie,” Benson said.

Both players from Highland and Hillcrest seemed to overlook the game in a way, and realized that paying respects to Coach Brown is what was most important that night. For the Huskies, after the final quarter, the spirit was high. After a tough loss one can expect players to be melancholy with a look of defeat, but the Hillcrest huskies had smiles on their faces at the end of the game. They felt unified and strong.

“Man that was a fun tribute let me tell you. [The Rams] came out hard like I knew they would, and I loved every second of it. I loved that and Coach Brown would be proud,” Brody Roemmich, a Hillcrest Husky player said.

Roemmich spoke beaming ear to ear.

Only a number players from Highland were coached by Brown, but those who were, were heavily impacted by him.

“I knew Coach Brown my freshman and sophomore year. He was one of my favorite coaches because he was the one that pushed me to thrive and become a starter, which I did overtime,” Jonathon Bulalaque said.

It is appropriate to say that players really would not be who they are today without Cazzie Brown.

“He was the most positive person in our practices. He was a great man,” Bulalaque said.

Regarding the game, Coach Benson was apprehensive on how Highland handled the game on the offensive side, and stated there were some things that Highland has to clean up. The emotion was built up all week long and although the players felt tied together, there was so much passion during the game. Injuries were a common occurrence, and a few of Highland players walked off the field with them, including Trayton Keyes, Highland’s starting running back.

Last night’s game ended up being more of a beautiful tribute, rather than an exciting defeat. Coach Brown’s positive, outgoing and cheerful personality left a strong impact on both schools. Athletes will remember him for brightening their day and teaching them “the journey is far more important than the destination.”

Coach Cazzie Brown made his coworkers uplifted, his athletes stronger, people better, and the world brighter.

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