Damian Brown stepped outside of his comfort zone to join the Bastrop High coaching staff.
After spending the first seven years of his career in his hometown of Lake Providence, Brown decided it was time for a change of scenery.
“It was just time to branch out and advance my career,” said Brown, Bastrop's new outside linebackers and rovers coach. “I had been at the same place for a while and it was time for a change. Sometimes it's good to leave the nest. You want to see if you are good at your craft. I was at home and figured I could always stay there, but you always want a higher classification.”
Brown coached defensive backs throughout his tenure at Lake Providence and was the Panthers' defensive coordinator for the past three seasons on head coach Sonny Nason's staff. Shortly after rejoining the Rams as wide receivers coach, Nason informed Brown of the opening for his current position.
“I kept in touch with Sonny after he left Lake Providence and he told me Bastrop had a position available and asked if I wanted to apply,” Brown recalled. “I came over and interviewed with coach
(Thomas) Bachman and he offered me the position.”
Brown left Lake Providence in style as the Panthers won their first district championship since 1981 last fall. Having endured the Panthers' lean years as both a player and a coach, the Panthers' District 2-2A title was especially meaningful to Brown.
“I've always said that I think our success last season meant more to me than it did to the kids,” Brown said. “When I played at Lake Providence, we had an 0-10 season, a 2-8 season and a 1-9 season.
Winning the district championship was special to me because I had been there for the hard times. It meant a lot to me to see the community get behind the program. It was a milestone year for Lake Providence.”
Brown says the biggest difference between coaching at Bastrop and Lake Providence can be found in sheer numbers. Not only are there more players to work with at the 4A school, Brown has found that he doesn't have to wear as many hats on a larger coaching staff.
“Somebody was asking me the other day about the difference between coaching at Lake Providence and Bastrop,” Brown said. “Here, you have more athletes to choose from and the kids are more athletically inclined. It's all about depth. In 2A ball, there's usually a big difference between the No. 1 kid and the next kid. In 4A, the No. 2 kid is just as capable as the starter in some situations.
“Being a part of a larger staff allows you specialize. I can get into specifics when coaching my group.”
One part of coaching is the same regardless of the classification.
“When the kids go out and execute what you have taught them to do, it makes you feel good as a coach,” Brown said.
Overall, Brown has been pleased with the outside linebackers during preseason camp.
“William Fields is a good rover,” Brown said. “His backup, Xavier Dunn, is going to play in a lot of situations. Some of the younger guys are coming on pretty good.”
Upon graduating from Lake Providence in 1997, Brown attended the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff where he played baseball for two years. Brown majored in history at UAPB and received his teacher's certification from Louisiana Tech.
Brown will teach freshman world geography at Bastrop High.
Brown's wife Niccole is a teacher at South Side Elementary in Lake Providence. The couple has four children — Akeira (14), Damia (7), Layla (4) and Damian II (18 months).