Michael Brown has led the Wildcats’ athletic programs for 16 years.
Winter Park High School knows what it takes to excel in sports. Throughout their history, the Wildcats have piled up an embarrassment of riches: 118 team state championships, 155 individual state championships and 71 relay state championships.
But one faculty member who has supported teams from behind the scenes for the past 16 years is calling it a career.
Athletic Director Michael Brown will be retiring after this school year after 32 years at Winter Park High School.
Originally joining Winter Park as a chemistry teacher in the fall of 1987, Brown taught students in the classroom for 16 years before taking the position of athletic director, handling the logistics of sporting events and working with coaches to make sure they have everything they need to lead their teams effectively.
Since taking the helm of the athletics programs, Brown has helped the coaches purchase new equipment, worked with the principal to hire new coaches and made sure teams abide by all the right rules so they can focus on the game at hand.
It’s been a fun ride, Brown said.
“It’s been a good time —the program is very successful,” he said. “It’s all about the coaches and the kids. ... It’s fun — I’ve enjoyed seeing the success of our programs. The kids are doing well, and the coaches are doing a good job.”
A tradition of excellence has continued at Winter Park High thanks to the coaches and athletes, Brown said. The athletic program as a whole continues to get recognized. The FHSAA Floyd E. Lay Sunshine Cup Overall All Sports Award, which recognizes the best overall sports program in the state, has been captured by Winter Park 10 times since the 1999-2000 school year. That’s in addition to four Boys’ All Sports Awards and seven Girls’ All Sports Awards.
Eight of those overall awards came while Brown was on the sidelines, although it’s all because of the hard work put in by the coaches and athletes, he said.
“No other school has won it more than two or three,” Brown said. “To me, the more incredible thing is that not only have we won it more than almost all the other schools combined ... over the last 16 to 18 years, we’ve only had one year we didn’t finish first or second. We’re always in the hunt.”
Brown was a coach himself in the early- to mid-1990s for the boys track and cross-country teams, but he’s enjoyed stepping back and supporting the coaches in the past 16 years with the help of his assistant athletic directors, he said.
“We try to let the coaches have their time to coach, and we try to handle all of the other things that go on,” Brown said.
Taking Brown’s position is current Lake Nona High School Athletic Director Andy Chiles. The program no doubt will continue to thrive under his watch, Brown said.
“We have a new athletic director coming in, and I’m sure he’ll do a good job,” Brown said. “I don’t see any significant change in the program, because the program is not the athletic director — the program is the coaches and the kids. That’s not going to change.”