Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Brown Keeps Rolling

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Brown Keeps Rolling

Article excerpt

MAHWAH - There's Jacob Brown the website, Jacob Brown the photographer, Jacob Brown the coach and Jacob Brown the food police.

"He will come up to us and say, 'Why are you eating that, that's [garbage],' and he will take it and throw it out. But we know he's right," said Ridgewood senior Katherine Cirillo. "He's awesome."

There's also Jacob Brown, the Ridgewood and North Jersey track/ cross-country institution. He's been at the school since 1971. His trademark skinny frame, sometimes topped with a cowboy hat, is known to everyone in the high school running community.

Monday, Brown was at Darlington County Park to see his girls run in a dual meet. There are more than 70 girls on the Ridgewood cross- country team, which by itself is a testament to the drawing power of a 69-year-old who rarely raises his voice.

He wasn't planning on running many of his top runners Monday, but that didn't dull any of his enthusiasm or energy for the race. A half-hour before the race started, on a blue tarp under a tree near the finish line, the girls mingled around Brown like a pied piper.

Brown puts on a long-sleeved Ridgewood shirt (to look better for photos) and calls out the schedule for the afternoon. He talks about tying shoes correctly, and encourages one girl to have confidence in herself and her training.

Around his neck is a camera. Brown is an avid photographer of nature and athletics.

With a gentle, "Come on girls, let's rock and roll," he summons them to the starting line. He joins them there for some final words and a team huddle, and then scurries off to the side.

At the starter's pistol, Brown is off too. He disappears from view.

But he hasn't left. Brown takes his bike out on the course - one of the few coaches to make such an effort. There he can survey how things are going.

"I injured my back in the '80s and can't run," said Brown. "I used to run with the kids and I would work out to be in shape, but then I got hurt. I got the bike and I realized it makes me a better coach, because before when I would run with the kids, I could only keep up with a few of them. Now on the bike, I go back and forth."

Brown returns after 20 minutes to wait by the finish line. …

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