Heaven has a jumper in Maggie Browne
How do I write a column the day after losing a member of my track & field team? The answer is that you use the Nike motto and you “just do it” because words creating memories versus silence can help in the healing process for so many. I have been through this two or three times in my coaching career, and I always tell myself I do not want to go through it again, until it happens and I go through it again.
Sophomore Maggie Browne was a young, versatile jumper on this year’s indoor track team, and Tuesday evening, she took her final jump, a big personal record jump into the gates of heaven, as the Cape community lost her to a tragic accident. One second you’re having a great time with your friends and the next second you’re gone; it just does not make sense. Life is so fragile, and many times, things in life do not make any sense.
Maggie had a gift of high-level cheerleading, which involves a lot of gymnastics moves like twisting, turning and flipping, and that was enough info for me to go after her in seventh grade at Beacon Middle School, as my track & field mind was thinking high jump/triple jump. I remember the day I told coach Gilbert Maull that we needed another jumper and I would be late for practice as I was going to find this seventh-grader. When I asked my distance runner Elizabeth Melson how do I find her when I don’t know what she looks like, she told me just to ask, “Where is Maggie?” since everyone knows her. She was right. I asked one person and a minute later, a strong-looking, smiling athlete was standing in front of me saying "Hi, Coach B. I'm Maggie." I asked her if she would consider giving track & field a try as girls with her background make really good track athletes. I remember Maggie saying, “I don’t know. You all are really good and never lose much.” I explained to her that was why I was standing in front of her having this conversation. “OK, I’ll ask my mom and let you know,” she said. That was a good enough answer for me.
Maggie’s track & field career began with us seeing her just a few times a week due to her cheer schedule, and over the next year, and many first-place finishes, her two days went to three, then to four, and eventually we had her full time for her eighth-grade season, when she jumped 4-feet-8-inches in the high jump, 14-feet-10-inches in the long jump and 30-feet-8-inches in the triple jump, which are not too bad for middle school jumpers. Maggie also tried a little hurdling and sprinting, making her one of the most versatile athletes I have ever coached.
This past winter, Maggie braved the cold with the rest of us. In her final meet in a Vikings uniform last month, she won the long jump and high jump – her favorite events. Maggie had so much fun in the sport. She even got her sister Katie out last year for our team. Maggie and I had the same philosophy with Katie, “If you have to drive me to practice, then you might as well stay.”
Last indoor season when Mags was a freshman, she volunteered her mom to host our annual holiday Christmas party. When I asked whether she should check with her, she said, “She’s good, it’s only 20 girls.” I remember that night. We had such a great time. I am hoping the team that was there that night will remember the fun as well. We had a great pasta dinner followed by an exciting game of exchanging presents. Just as I opened something cool that I wanted, the next person would take it from me. The girls had a name for the game, but to me it was "steal whatever Coach B has." I ended the evening with Noelle Sabbagh’s $20 gift certificate, so the night was not that bad after all.
Coaches and athletes make memories that can never be taken away, and I will always remember jumping, smiling, talented, hardworking, “I can do it” attitude Maggie Browne. She is gone too early, but she will never be forgotten ... RIP, Magster!
Smyrna meet moved to Friday, April 16
The Cape Henlopen versus Smyrna track & field meet, one that is anticipated to be one of the best of the season on both the boys’ and girls’ side of action, will be moved from Tuesday, April 13, to Friday, April 16.
Track & Field Clinic II
The Cape Henlopen girls’ track & field team will host two more track clinics this season for young athletes, as Clinic II is open and ready for registration. The Future of Track & Field is Upon Us is the motto as we aim to show the upcoming athletes what the great sport of track & field can do for them. The next clinics will be Sunday, April 18, and Sunday, May 2, with athletes through grade five from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and athletes from sixth grade and above from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The clinic will be held at Cape Henlopen High School Legends Stadium in Lewes. Registration info is at seashorestriders.com or contact coach Tim Bamforth at Shields Elementary School in Lewes by emailing email@example.com.