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Brainerd Panthers surprise coach with heartfelt gesture

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After giving Levar Brown a gift, the Brainerd Panthers close in a huddle and cheer. The Panthers play Wednesday in the state basketball tournament. PHOTO: WTVC SPORTS

The bond between a coach and player is special.

Brainerd head basketball coach Levar Brown has been a father figure to his team for years.

They've been through some tough times on and off the basketball court.

Remember last year the Austin East brawl, which involved many spectators, cost the Panthers postseason play.

On Tuesday, the team completely surprised coach Brown before they left for the state tournament.

Gathered together in the library circled around the table, the team told an unsuspecting Brown, "You fought for us to get back to state and we just want to present you with this plaque. Making us better men and everything. Love ya coach. It's from the whole team."

The gesture truly touched Coach Brown.

The plaque honors him for "his exemplary act of generosity, understanding and being a father figure role in his athletes lives on and off the court."

After receiving the plaque, Brown spoke from his heart. "When you start walking right, your kids can see you walk right. Y'all do a good job of trying to walk right so this means a lot. What we are about to do for the next three or four days means a lot, but even if we don't, this right here made my year man."

Coach Brown said after the ups and downs and the Austin East fight, they learned a tough lesson.

And they plan to represent the Brainerd community in a positive way at the tournament.

They play Pearl Cohn at 3:45 Wednesday afternoon at MTSU.

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