Meet May's #MICharterHero: Coach Monique Brown from Detroit Edison Public School Academy

Kyra Biscarner
May 1, 2024 10:59:46 AM

Fresh off their fifth girls basketball state championship in seven seasons, the Detroit Edison Public School Academy (DEPSA) senior players were ready to surprise Coach Monique Brown with May’s #MICharterHero award. 

Coaching at DEPSA for over 15 seasons and the current Athletic Director, Coach Brown said when she started at DEPSA, she wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do but after a conversation with Ralph Bland, Superintendent of Detroit Edison Public School Academy and CEO of New Paradigm For Education, which supports 5 schools and over 2000 students in Detroit, she was ready to get started. 

I met someone who knew Mr. Bland, and I was with DPS moving around. And he said, well, go down and talk to Ralph Bland and I didn't know that I knew his brother from coaching at the other school. So I got over here and I went from high school to the young babies as a paraprofessional. It was like trying to figure out what I really wanted to do because I didn't really want to go back to the classroom. So I met Mr. Bland and moved around for a few years. I’ve always been an athlete at heart and one day he said, well, I want you to do my basketball team.”


At the time DEPSA did not yet have a high school so Coach Brown started with the middle school team. Coach Brown said although she loved the middle school players she was ready to coach high school. 

I was like, well, I want the older players again. We didn't have a high school at the time, but there were talks about the high school for next year. And I said, Well, I was going to go over, to be honest, I was going to go to another school, who had a Nike deal, who had players, who had history and he said, I want you to think about it. I want you to start this off. I spent a whole summer thinking and talking to coaches around the area, and I came up with the decision to stay and to start my own legacy.”

For several years, Coach Brown coached both the middle school and high school girls basketball teams. Coach Brown said although it was difficult at times, it was rewarding to watch girls learn basketball. 

When the high school came, I left the middle school, but I was not getting the kids to walk across the street. So I had to go back to the middle school, and I had to do double duty for a few years. And that's when the players were getting better. High school finally had four classes, ninth through twelfth and we were able to get the kids to walk from the middle school to the high school. And that's how the success started.”

Coach Brown said at the end of the day having the middle school and the high school teams really helped her as a coach. 

I think the biggest thing is the middle school and having them at a younger age where they can walk over. You already have a bond, a rapport with parents. They know you. I don't have many issues with parents, and they know the system. Then when you are successful, it makes it so much easier for them to just walk across the street and say, "This is my coach, and that's why I'm still here.”

Coach Brown said she is looking forward to many more seasons at DEPSA because she can see her players grow and achieve their dreams like Rickea Jackson, who was recently drafted 4th by the WNBA and is about to start her professional basketball career with the Los Angeles Sparks.

I don't think people understand the one reason why I'm here is for those young girls like we had. Rickea Jackson came in and I knew her as a sixth grader. She came in, enrolled in seventh grade and just saw a dream come true that is pushed by the work and the passion. And that's what she had. So it's like, there are a lot of young kids over there that probably have that same dream. I have a young lady right now. She's a ninth grader and she is doing really well. She was a fifth grader, and I walked past her, and she was standing. She was looking me in my eyes as a fifth grader, and I said, “Aren't you playing basketball?” And she said, “Oh, no, I do dance.” I said, “no, you play basketball now”. And she's doing really, really well right now, and she shows the passion and the work, and hopefully we'll be having a watch party for her later down the road if it continues to be her dream. So that is why I'm still here, and that's what motivates me to stay.”

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