Getting to Know Eastern Michigan's First-Year Head Coach: Sarah Brown

Sarah Brown

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Sarah Brown is a first-year head coach at Eastern Michigan University. She took over the program this preseason after the Eagles finished a school-record 17th overall in the country in 2016. Previous head coaches Jay and Jessica Santos exited the program to move on to Arizona State University at the end of this past season. Brown has big goals and dreams in her first year as a head coach to bring Eastern Michigan to new heights. 

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EMU head coach Sarah Brown (right) with her assistant coaches, Dallas Becerra (center) and Shea Anderson (left).

FloGymnastics recently caught up with EMU first-year head coach Sarah Brown.

FloGymnastics: Tell us about your personal gymnastics background. 
Sarah Brown: I was an elite gymnast at GAGE from 2002-2005. I went on to the University of Utah for my freshman year. I transferred to Missouri my sophomore year as a walk on. At Missouri, it was great to be a part of a team that I could help build. My senior year we qualified to Nationals, and that was great for our program. 

How did your gymnastics career prepare you for coaching?
Seeing that I transferred to a new university during my four years of college, I knew that I wanted to help others with the transition to college. I knew in my time at Missouri that I wanted to be a college coach and help athletes with the same things I went through. 

What coaches were inspirations to you to become a head coach? 
First and foremost, my parents have both been a great inspiration to me. My dad is a coach himself, and I talk to him almost every day about general coaching philosophies. Also, Dr. (Rick) McGuire at Missouri in the sports psychology program. I learned through him that positive coaching works. He also taught me how the brain works and the amount of anxiety and depression girls face outside of the gym. Of course, my coaches at GAGE (Al Fong and Armine Barutyan-Fong) who poured their heart and soul into every turn we took. I learned from them great discipline. In my short time at Utah, I learned from Greg (Marsden) how much he put into his program and how much hard work it takes to build a program. At Missouri, I was able to rebuild my passion and love for the sport again from Rob Drass. He believed in me and didn't let me get down on myself. And of course, Bev Plocki at Michigan. Bev taught me about recruiting and how to sell and utilize every part of the program there. She puts her heart and soul into each of her athletes, and that was a privilege to be a part of. 

How did your time last year at Michigan as volunteer coach prepare you?
It was such a great opportunity to be a part of a program with such success. I was able to see the ins and outs of what went into recruiting, the office, and continued success. In my time at Michigan, I was able to figure out who I wanted to be as a coach. Bev gave me the confidence to go for a head coaching job. 

What is it about EMU that drew you in?
I always wanted to be a part of a bigger gymnastics program, and what a great time to be an Eagle! The administration has been working hard to bring EMU to new heights and for all to have a positive experience. I feel honored to have inherited a program that finished 17th in the country last year. I want to give this program everything I have to help a team make history and rewrite the history books for EMU.

What is the biggest surprise to you about being a head coach so far?
The biggest surprise to me is that there is never a "normal" week. Each week brings new aches and pains from an athlete, new meetings, new challenges, etc. I have had to redefine my definition of normal, but that is what makes this job so exciting. I have also learned that this is a marathon not a sprint. I have had to learn to be patient and to trust the system. 

What are your goals in your first season at EMU?
As a team, our goal is to repeat as MAC champions and continuing to build on our success at NCAA regionals. Personally, I would like to help each athlete to achieve the highest level they can in their gymnastics and to help these young ladies graduate as well-rounded people who will be successful in the professional world.

How did the team respond to a new head coach?
I was overwhelmed by the support from all the gymnasts. For the seniors, I am their third head coach and was anticipating some hesitation from them. However, I had the most buy-in from the upperclassmen! All of the girls have been very positive to the transition. I am proud of the leadership I have seen from the upperclassmen. These girls are not afraid to communicate with me something they had done in the past or something new they want to try. The girls know that I have their back, and I know they have mine as well. 

Anything else you would like to tell us about yourself or the EMU program?
That this team has so much passion and love for the sport of gymnastics! Jay and Jessica [Santos] did such a great job turning this program in the right direction. This team is full of girls that want to do well and will work hard to show the rest of the gymnastics nation what a good program we are. We have a great staff here at Eastern, and we look forward to the growth of our program on the national stage.


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Sarah Brown Named New Head Coach at Eastern Michigan 

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