New Beaumont United Girls Basketball Coach Tammy Walker-Brown will be added to the McKinney ISD Hall of Honor Class of 2019 next January.
Walker-Brown was a two-time all-state basketball player for McKinney High School in the mid-1980s.
Walker-Brown won 11 straight district titles as Ozen’s girls basketball coach and was named Beaumont United’s coach in May.
BEAUMONT OZEN HIGH SCHOOL HONORING MRS. TAMMY WALKER-BROWN:
Ozen basketball coach Tammy Walker-Brown was on her way to the locker room for halftime when she noticed her players had not moved from the bench.
She looked back, confused, before the voice of her best friend and Beaumont ISD employee, Bennie Berry, came over the loudspeaker.
“We are here tonight to honor one of the greatest,” Berry said.
Tuesday’s 59-46 win over Livingston wrapped up Ozen’s 10th straight district championship under Walker-Brown, the reason for the surprise recognition during the regular season finale.
Walker-Brown sat back down on the end of the bench, first smiling as Berry spoke about her accomplishments and quickly breaking into tears as she accepted a group hug from her team. A cake, which read “10 years straight,” was wheeled onto the court.
Walker-Brown blew out the candles as her team chanted behind her, “Let’s win state!”
“There were a lot of heartfelt words about some of the adversity they know I’ve gone through,” Walker-Brown said. “It was very touching for them to recognize and identify that. This was a culmination of a really good season.
The Lady Panthers finished 14-0 in district play, advancing to the playoffs for the 10th-straight year since Walker-Brown took over in 2006. In that time, Ozen has won 13 postseason games – including a run to the state semifinals in 2011.
Playing in a gym surrounded by the accomplishments of the boys’ basketball program, Walker-Brown has turned her Lady Panthers team into a perennial power in Southeast Texas.
“I’m very fortunate to coach at a place where basketball tradition is so rich,” Walker-Brown said. “Winning is contagious at this school.”
Walker-Brown was hired at Ozen in 2005, coming to Beaumont after five years as the coach at Wharton. Her husband, Tony Brown Sr., took a job as an assistant football coach at Central. Their kids, Tony Brown Jr. and Bealoved Brown enrolled in school.
Three weeks after they moved into their Beaumont home, they were forced to evacuate.
“It was an experience in itself,” Walker-Brown said. “I remember clearly loading up the suburban with as much stuff as we could and all of our animals, even the fish.”
Walker-Brown and her family were luckier than most. They had to replace their roof and deal with water damage but were able to move back into their house.
In 2009, Walker-Brown’s husband accepted a position as Ozen football’s defensive coordinator and joined her as an assistant for the Lady Panthers.
“That was a lot of fun for me and the kids,” Walker-Brown said. “We were flipping tires and doing strength stuff we had never done before.”
In 2011, behind sophomore Nekia Jones – a University of Texas signee, now at North Texas – Ozen advanced to the state semifinals before falling 44-39 to No. 1-ranked Canyon.
It was the second time she had lost to Canyon in a state semifinal.
During her playing career at McKinney High School, Walker-Brown’s team lost to the Lady Eagles in 1987.
“I’ll never forget it,” Walker-Brown said. “They still had the same coach and he remembered me from all those years ago. It was a great game (in 2011), but it was a tough one to lose.”
Ozen had all the tools for a return trip to the state tournament, but before the season began, Walker-Brown’s family was thrown into a crisis.
On Aug. 26, her husband suffered a massive stroke.
“It’s a day I’ll never forget,” Walker-Brown said.
For two months, Walker-Brown spent most of her time in the hospital. But it’s a time she said that reassured her she had chosen the right place for her coaching career.
“I don’t think I had to cook a meal for two months while he was hospitalized,” Walker-Brown said. “Other teachers would pick up my children from school. There was so much support.”
That same year, the Lady Panthers rolled to a perfect 34-0 record before losing in the regional finals to Barbers Hill.
“I know Beaumont ISD has a bad reputation, and it’s not perfect,” she said. “But I can raise my hand and say that I have felt the love here. It allowed my family to carry on.”
Nichole Kirven said her daughter, sophomore Ashlei Kirven has thrived under Walker-Brown. Kirven scored nine points and had 11 rebounds in the win over Livingston.
“She (Coach Walker-Brown) is a tremendous influence on these girls,” Kirven said. “We feel so lucky to have here. We don’t have this kind of success without here.”