Two and a half degrees, hundreds of tennis matches, one husband, two sons, four grandsons and a whole lot of teaching. Ask former head tennis coach Jan Brown about her life, and this is how she’d describe it.
But after 45 years in education, the Houston native has decided to begin a new chapter of her life: retirement. At the conclusion of the 2016-2017 school year, she walked out of Prosper High for the last time, ending her 30-year tenure at the school.
“I was walking down the main hall in October, and I thought, ‘I’m not doing this anymore,” she said. “When we (celebrated) Veteran’s Day, I thought, ‘This is my last Veteran’s luncheon.’ … I just knew it was time.”
Brown taught English and leadership classes at Prosper High School, in addition to coaching tennis, which she said she fell in love with when she was entering her freshman year of high school after her PE teacher introduced her to the sport.
“When I was in junior high, everyone had to take PE, but it just wasn’t fun,” Brown said. “(My coach) asked if I wanted to play (tennis) and I said ‘Sure!’ and it was just that simple. … We had a really good team, and I learned from a really good player and I learned to love it.”
She played all through high school and some in college when she attended Baylor University, but quit in order to focus on her education. While in Waco, she obtained both a bachelor’s of science in kinesiology with an English minor and a master’s degree in physical education. She almost achieved a Ph.D in higher education, but she said it just wasn’t important at the time and decided to forgo it to get straight into teaching.
Throughout her career, she has taught just about every grade level, including some college classes, elementary and of course high school. She moved to Prosper in 1986 after working at Gatesville High School. At that time, the city had just 300 students total in the entire education system. As she spent more time in the district, she watched the city grow before her eyes, from 1A to 5A, and said she loved every second of it.
“I think it’s a phenomenal career that you get to spend that much time at one school, you know, get to see the growth and the changes and all that, and I really appreciated getting to do that,” she said.
And as the town grew, so did the school’s interest in tennis.
Tennis was fairly new when she arrived at the high school, but she made sure to create a new era for the sport. As head coach, she qualified for regionals all but three times in her career, and led eight teams to a state appearance.
As she moves into retirement, she said the newly-acquired free time on her hands will be quite an adjustment. Aside from an annual trip with her high school friends in September, Brown said she has no other major life changes in the future. She does, however, want to travel with her husband, who is also retired, and spend time with her grandchildren in the hopes of filling the void of not teaching.
“When you’ve done something your whole life, you don’t know what it will be like without it, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said.
Brown isn’t the only one who will have to make an adjustment to her retirement. Prosper Athletic Director Valerie Little knows just how much Brown has given to Prosper ISD, and said she will be more than missed in the upcoming years.
“We are very grateful to Coach Brown for her 30 years of service to PISD,” Little said. “The number of students and student athletes she has positively impacted is beyond measure. We are very sad to see her go, but excited for her and her next chapter.”
Mandy Bowling will take over the tennis program at Prosper High in the fall. She entered the Prosper family after working in Frisco for two years. In conclusion of her incredible career, Brown said she hopes that Bowling will continue to teach the students how to be good tennis players and even better human beings.
“We will never be able to replace her, nor would we try,” Little said. “We simply are going to build on the foundation that she has established at Prosper High School. … We will miss her smiling, positive attitude tremendously.”