Published: Wednesday, August 31, 2011, 12:01 a.m.
Sam Brown can do it all. He is a three-sport athlete who excels at all three.
He plays quarterback for the Timberwolves, he pitches for the baseball team and he plays basketball.
"Sam is a unique kid these days," Jackson football coach Joel Vincent said. "You don't see many kids that are real quality three-sport athletes."
Baseball is where Brown has the most success. He was a key member of the Jackson team that finished second in the Class 4A state baseball tournament last spring and he has committed to play baseball at the University of Arizona.
But come every August, it is football that gets Brown's focus. He is one of the leaders of a Timberwolves team that has high aspirations this season.
It didn't take Brown long to realize that he was blessed with the gift of being a natural athlete. He says it started even before he could remember.
"I never played with tractors or any of that stuff, I was always playing with balls, like baseballs and footballs and basketballs, whatever I could get my hands on," Brown said. "Or at least that is what my parents tell me, I can't remember. Every memory I have growing up is playing some kind of sport, whether it be in the back yard or something. I have always known sports were my thing."
Making the grade
Without question, Brown is an outstanding athlete, but he takes just as much pride in what he does in the classroom. Brown is an "A" student and says, "If I couldn't succeed in school, I don't think I would be going anywhere for any sports."
That may be true, but perhaps it is his intelligence -- and his drive -- that make him so successful in the arena of sports.
"Sam is a really hard worker on the field, off the field and in the classroom," his father, Rob Brown, said. "It's his ability to be motivated by himself that allows him to do these things."
As Sam tells it, his parents have always been supportive of his athletic endeavors, but still stressed the importance of the classroom.
"Ever since I started school it hasn't been like an option for me to get good grades, 'Like oh yeah I hope you do good in school,' it's like 'You're getting good grades,'" Brown said. "I never really thought about it, I was just like, 'I need to do good in school or else, I don't know what else, but you better do it.'"
Brown's success as an athlete and a student sometimes leads to a bit of good-natured razzing from his teammates.
"People just make fun of me, especially the lineman who are bigger than me that know that I can't do anything about it," Brown joked.
For the love of the game
Brown says baseball is the sport where he has the most success and he hopes to have the opportunity to step right in and play as an outfielder at the University of Arizona, but that doesn't mean his other sports -- especially football -- get any less of his attention.
"Baseball has always been my number one, but I mean football, I love it," Brown said. "People always ask me, 'Are you ever going to give up football and just focus on baseball?' No, I couldn't do that. I could never go watch a game on Friday night. If I wasn't playing, I would feel like I couldn't be there. Football is so much fun I could never stop playing -- basketball too, it's the same way, I could never quit basketball."
In addition to his physical skills, Brown is expected to bring leadership to the Timberwolves' huddle this season.
"Leadership comes with being a quarterback," Brown said. "Most people know that I am a baseball player, but I don't look at it that way. In football season, I am a football player and it's my job to be the best football player I can be. I just hope I can do my part and lead other guys because it will be my senior year. When it comes football season, it's football season for me. Once August 18th comes around and practice starts, I am focused on football."
Learning from the past
For athletes, learning how to deal with disappointment is often times just as important as learning how to be successful. This past May, Brown had to deal with one of those major disappointments. The Timberwolves baseball team was up 1-0 going into the final inning of the 4A state championship game against Bothell, only to lose 3-2.
"That was a rough loss," Brown said.
But he didn't lose sight of the big picture.
"I have always been a competitor, I never want to lose, I hate losing," Brown said. "But just getting experience, if you are winning that's great, but I feel like it makes you stronger as an athlete and a person when you lose because it makes you tougher I guess. So I mean, knowing that feeling of being so close to the state championship and then the next thing up is football. It will just make me work even harder and push our team even harder to get as far as we can go."
Jackson's playoff loss to Eastlake in the quad-district playoffs last football season has Brown aspiring for more this year.
"There is a lot to build on," Brown said. "I definitely think this year that we have a lot of potential. I want to go back and be as good as we can be and reach our full potential. Who knows what is, but hopefully this year we will be a little bit more experienced, so we will be more confident in ourselves and just be able to play better when it comes down to it."