WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — Mount Tabor head football coach Tiesuan Brown spoke with FOX8 following the school shooting on Wednesday. Brown mentioned that he wasn’t even on campus when the shooting happened.
“I was at home having some personal issues, and my daughter was at school and I started getting phone calls that there was a shooting at the school,” he said. “I was overwhelmed that I couldn’t get there.”
Brown said it was difficult to process what was happening.
“It was really scary,” he said. “When I got to the school, the police officers had the whole thing barricaded. Just talking to different teachers on the phone and just hearing the fear in their voices was just eating me up not being inside with the kids.”
Although Wednesday’s events were tragic for the community, he says the support of others is carrying them through the hard times.
“Every school in Forsyth County has reached out to me, every football coach,” he said. “Tough things happen, but we’ve got tough people there and we’re going to make it through these tough times.”
Brown has the unique position of being a leadership figure to 50+ students on his football team. He says discussing it with them was his top priority.
“The first thing I told my kids was that we all love you,” he said. “We want to spread that word — love. We always do in our football program.”
The players have risen to the occasion following the shooting, encouraging students to talk and offering to help those who may need it.
“I tell them all the time: guys, we’re the model for the school,” Brown said. “People look up to us, they come to games Friday nights. We’ve always seen students who want to be like the football players. We try to role model how we want to act inside the school. That’s a lot of weight on our kids’ shoulders, but I tell them all the time, there’s a little kid in the stands right now that’s looking at your behavior. What we do makes a difference.”
Brown added that this event is not what Mount Tabor stands for. He explained the Spartans are known for their top-notch athletic, academic, and arts programs.
“Mount Tabor’s a huge family,” he said. “This is not a defining moment for Mount Tabor. We’re going to bounce back from this. We’re going to continue to be excellent.”
Mount Tabor is known for its loyal fans. The Spartans were scheduled to play at Page on Friday night but postponed the game a week following the shooting. He says football can be the start to a healing journey the community needs.
“That’s one of the messages that I had with my team. I said guys, we’ve got to be able to shine a bright light back on our school. We can do that through our play and our behavior throughout the school and throughout the game,” he said. “As soon as I said that, the kids were like, ‘Coach, you’re absolutely right. We can’t wait to get back on the field.'”
Out of respect for William Chavis Reynard Miller Jr. and his family, Mount Tabor bumped back their game. The Spartans will kick off at Page Thursday night at 7 p.m.