Gwinn, Mich. (WJMN) – When the Gwinn Modeltowners take the field against the Hancock Bulldogs on Friday emotions will be running high. Not only because the idea of even taking the field this fall seemed like reach just a few short weeks ago, but because Gwinn will be playing this year in dedication of their late head football coach, Dion Brown.
THIS ONE IS FOR DION.
It’s the message the Modeltowners have been using through the offseason. Local 3 caught up with the Modeltowners in late June just as they began summer workouts.
“We’re just continuing what coach Brown always did. You know, he was always here Monday through Friday, then we would weight lift for an hour then they would come onto the field for an hour and condition. It’s just continuing to do that normal thing that coach brown kind of instilled in us and to keep it as normal as we can for them too. We’re just trying to get bigger, faster, and stronger. That was always coach Brown’s mantra was bigger, faster, stronger and that’s what we’re trying to do. So, that when the season rolls around we’re prepared we’re ready, ” said Ben Olsen, the interim head coach for the Gwinn Modeltowners.
It’s the term Dion emphasized during his tenure at Gwinn. It took Dion Brown just two short years to turnaround the struggling Gwinn football program when he was hired in 2014.
“I tell my players all the time, every day, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice for one another. Be loyal to each other and you’ll come out victorious.” – Dion Brown, 2018
More than a game
When talking with current Gwinn football players it’s apparent that Brown was much more to them than a coach. He took on a father-figure role for the kids helping guide them through life’s struggles as teenagers.
“Do it for Dion, it means a lot to us he was a big part of our community, he was like a father figure to us. He was like a mentor to most people. Got them out of situations that kids were like struggling with and stuff like that. Dion will always be apart of this community no matter what.”
“Kids who were not living their best life, who were just struggling…Dion was always there for them. He showed that by opening up the weight room for everyone,” said Mastin Love, a defensive back for Gwinn.
“He would text them and make sure they were doing alright after a tough loss or after an injury. He took that extra time to really show that he cared about the kids and that he was here for the kids,” said Olsen.
Brown was able to connect with his players in a way that most coaches couldn’t.
“I think him being from Chicago and having a tough upbringing. A lot of our kids up here have a lot of tough upbringings. They don’t have everything handed to them like some other places. He was able to really connect with those kinds of kids because the kids understood it wasn’t always easy for Dion. Now, Dion is here, he’s helping, he was a successful football coach, and I think a lot of these kids felt like if Dion could do it then they can do it,” said Olsen.
Loyalty was another important trait for Brown.
“I know there were multiple times that he could have moved on to bigger and better things, but you know, he was loyal. He stayed here and he was going to do it the Gwinn way with the Gwinn kids and I know I respected the heck out of him for that,” said Olsen.
Continue his legacy
“He came in and had success, now, we want to build on that success. We’ve been to the playoffs, but we haven’t got a playoff win, we haven’t got home playoff game yet. That was the next thing, kind of, on his checklist, was to not only get to the playoffs but get a win, and get a home playoff game. So, that’s where we’re at right now. We want to continue to build this and get a playoff win this year.
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