Son, teammates remember late coach fondly

Published 8:10am Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tom Brown certainly left an impact on Austin.

Thomas W. Brown

Brown, who passed away Wednesday, was an Austin youth hockey coach for nearly a decade and he certainly inspired the team that included his son, Steve Brown, and Tommy Tauchnitz.

After playing their youth hockey under Brown, the 1989 Packers boys hockey team ended up one game from the state tournament after losing to eventual state runner-up Rochester John Marshall. The Packers lost 4-2 to the Rockets, who had future NHL players Doug Zmolek and Eric Means on their team.

The Austin squad that had that much success at the high school level grew up together under the tutelage of Brown, who coached his son’s team for eight seasons.

“He was committed and dedicated,” Steve Brown said. “Later in life I came to understand he was coaching kids to become better people. I didn’t understand it when I was 9 or 10 years old, but everyone on the team became good buddies and are pretty good people.”

Tom didn’t play hockey at the high school level. His only playing experience was at the youth level, but he learned on the job and taught his players discipline, integrity, organization, and strong family values, according to Tauchnitz.

“Tom was a tough guy, but he was a solid guy,” Tauchnitz said. “He was so passionate about the game of hockey.”

Tauchnitz remembers how Tom would motivate his players by benching players for trivial things to get them fired up. Quite often, Steve was the one who faced the most discipline.

“He had an overwhelming need for fairness and he never wanted to play favorites,” Steve said. “I was his son and he was harder on me than other kids. At the time it was awkward, but it made the guys respect him and it made them respect me.”

Tauchnitz said as the team got older, Tom was their biggest supporter in their high school years and he said he still uses the lessons he learned while playing youth hockey.

“I’m now a high school tennis coach and often use the same tactics he used on me,” Tauchnitz said. “His motivational skills were legendary, but at the time I didn’t know it. I’m raising my two girls as hard working respectful young women that bust their butts in and out of the classroom. I run a business that’s built on honesty, hard work, and integrity.”

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