For many of our Michigan charters, educators wear hats that stretch far beyond title - from Athletic Director, to bus driver, to local community activist, and more, our people simply love a good challenge. New Standard Academy (NSA)'s Nate Brown is no exception. Of all his varying roles at the school, the one he finds the most rewarding is being creator and Head Coach of basketball program composed of students at NSA and their sister school Madison Academy High School. Once sure his coaching career was over, he couldn’t turn down the chance to give back to his community in Flint, and relive his coaching days with young athletes.
Before his time at NSA, Coach Brown played basketball as a college athlete at Mott Community College and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, spent some time working at a traditional public school, followed by working as a coach full-time until 2017, when he said it was time to step away from the gig. He couldn’t be happier to be back on the court, but also helping these students become so much more.
This is the best coaching job I’ve ever had because they focus so much on the student outside of basketball. We know that their chances of playing in college aren’t the highest, and playing professionally is even lower! I get the chance to use basketball to teach these students to be more responsible young men and life skills.“
- Nate Brown
With the philosophy of teaching to the whole student being ever-present at NSA, Coach Brown began building a new basketball program modeled after Coach Monique Brown and the girl's basketball program at Detroit Edison Public School Academy. Monique coached Nate’s daughter, and he fell in love with how she handled her team both on and off the court. NSA’s program may just be starting with a varsity team, but he’s hoping to build a freshman and junior varsity team as well.
Coach Brown often sees himself in the athletes he coaches - and he feels it's his responsibility to help them grow beyond the court. When a friend and local business owner mentioned he needed some help around the shop, he saw a critical opportunity to instill a lesson on earning and hard work with one of his players. Just a short while later, he'd placed the young man in a brand new job. This sparked the idea of helping place his other athletes in local jobs. Just this year he’s been able to place three students in jobs at a local print shop, a local urban shoe store, and one working at his company helping with construction projects. He’s hoping to place three more students very soon, and even more over the summer for a grand total of 15 - his whole team.
I tell my students ‘I’m going to teach you more about being a good man than I am about being a good basketball player.’ I want them to be productive members of society. I also want them to understand that they should expect to be good at everything. If you’re doing something, you’re going to be successful, if you’re doing nothing, you’re not succeeding.”
- Nate Brown
In addition to life skills built into his practice routine with students, Coach Brown brings the community to the students by hosting open gyms that allow students to learn about networking, even using his players' unique interests and aspirations to ensure professionals in those career fields attend the events. Students aren’t always receptive or can feel nervous, but with a little encouragement from Coach, they have conversations with successful people who look like them - something that is so important for children.
Now that he also serves as part of the athletic department at NSA, Nate is ready to hit the ground running. The goal is to build more sports programs, but also continue to work with the community to place all athletes in some type of job. He’s already in a partnership with Flint United - the local professional basketball team - to place students in internships that are adjacent to the court. Athletes have the opportunity to learn more about and understand professions like concessions, team managers, broadcasting, and marketing.
I want these students to build lifelong relationships and know that their community is here for them.”