“Passion for the game. Passion to mentor young men not only in football, but in life” shares Bill Browning.
Coach Bill Browning, also known as “Silver Fox” of Land O’ Lakes, Fla., has been an inspiration to many lives throughout his coaching career. He has given hope to many students who lacked direction. Throughout the years there have been times when students looked at him as a father figure because they lacked that important role model in their lives. He is looked upon as a person who inspires team building, mentors his students, and instills methods of success. He holds his coaches and players accountable for their actions with a stern demeanor. But he also lets them know that they can come to him at any time. When his team is winning he does not become arrogant or prideful, yet he displays humbleness as a sign of strength. He is a man who has wisdom, honor, and integrity.
Bill Browning was born in Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in a home where athletics was an integral part of their lives on and off the field. His older brother, Bud Browning, who was ten years older than Bill had a major impact on Bill’s decision to pursue a career in coaching and education. Bill idolized his brother’s coaching career. The coaches he played for, and the never-ending support of his parents also influenced him. To date, his 94 year-old father still attends his football games.
Coach Browning has been coaching for 36 years. Throughout his career he has also been Head Coach for Girls Track, Baseball, and Boys Weightlifting. Football has been his major passion in coaching. He has been a Head Coach at three high schools in Florida. They include nine years at Springstead High School in Hernando County, eight years at Hernando High School in Hernando County, and this is his seventh year at Sunlake High School in Pasco County. He took a hiatus and retired from coaching for three years to help the family take care of his mother, who was in bad health.
Some of his most memorable times in coaching included turning around a football program at Springstead High School with a 20-70 record when he took over and they became District Champs. Coach Browning turned around an undisciplined program at Hernando High School and led them to a District Championship. At the time, this was their first championship in 16 years. Seven years ago he started a new program at Sunlake High School and turned it into a Tampa Bay Power. Three of his former players are currently Head Football Coaches.
Coach Browning emphasizes his football coaches had a direct influence on his philosophy. “I played for men who demanded discipline (I did bones too!), mental toughness, a strong work ethic and loved the game.” He also discussed outside influences on his philosophy. Coach Browning stated, “I am an avid reader and have read and studied why people are successful.” Some successful coaches that have been an influence to him are Tony Dungy who focuses on what one should stand for and how to mentor others. Bear Bryant focuses on playing physical, tough love, mental toughness, and adapting to personnel each year. He strongly believes that defense wins championships. Mike Ditka believes in a demanding work ethic and having a vision.
His coaching was a calling, Coach Browning firmly believes. He wants to mentor young men not only in football, but in life by being a good role model. Balancing football and other priorities in life is not easy. Coach Browning stresses, “you must keep your priorities straight and I am much better at this now than when I was younger.” My Helen has truly been a blessing to me, Coach Browning said.
Helen Browning, Coach Browning’s wife has been very supportive and encouraging of her husband’s profession throughout his 36-year career. Mrs. Browning stressed that, “they raised three successful children who were inspired by their father’s dedication. This has led them to achieve their life goals.” Although they had a hectic schedule, this did not stop Mrs. Browning from achieving her own career path, which is that of a high school guidance counselor. She knew that there would be many sacrifices they would have to make because of the time commitment, but she was willing to put his needs before hers. As the years have gone by, she has embraced this aspect of her life said Mrs. Browning. Mrs. Browning stated that, “Bill’s parents attended almost all of his games. Even when their health started failing, she would pick them up and bring them for support and encouragement.” Helen has been a blessing to me, Coach Browning stated. Mrs. Browning cannot imagine her life being any other way.