At the 2023 State Basketball Tournament at Lipscomb University, coach Joe Brown from Area 6 – Maury County, at King’s Daughters' School was on the sidelines coaching his team to another exciting win on the basketball court.
This is his 14th year of coaching in Special Olympics, and it’s not just basketball; it’s many other sports as well at King’s Daughters' School.
“This is just what I love to do,” Brown said about coaching.
One of the athletes on his roster is EJ Mullens. Originally from Mississippi, the 13-year-old King’s Daughter’s student has been living there for the past three years, and in that time, he has picked up multiple sports.
“My favorite sport is probably football,” Mullens said. “But basketball would be my second favorite.”
He also said that his favorite thing about basketball is probably shooting, but he also enjoys defense as well.
Mullins has played under Coach Brown since he got to King’s Daughters', and he has been one of Mullens’ favorite parts about the whole school. When I asked him if he likes school, he shook his head no, but then stopped, turned and said, “Except for him,” as he pointed at Coach Brown with a growing smile on his face.
“I like him.”
Mullens later said that he had moved to King’s Daughters' School to help work on his anger issues, which I would never have guessed after watching him play on the court. He played hard but fair, and he never once looked like he was going to even get close to letting his anger impact his play.
There was joy to Mullens out there on the court, and during postgame, he was able to let me in a little about why he enjoys basketball so much.
“I love playing basketball a lot because I am with my friends,” Mullens said with a grin on his face.
Coach Brown practically confirmed what I had seen on the court, applauding how much EJ has improved in his time at the school. He also went on to praise all the athletes he was coaching.
“It’s never about me, it’s never about me you know, I just love seeing the athletes' development and how they work together,” Brown said. “When they are happy with themselves, it just makes me so happy for them.”
This kind of attitude and approach is what makes great coaches, and it is very apparent how much he loves the athletes the more time you spend with him.
“I have no children of my own, so I treat all these athletes like they're my kids,” he said. “And at King’s Daughters' we get a new rotation of children almost every two-three years, so this is probably like my eighth set of children right here.”
EJ Mullens, as mentioned before, is about to finish his third year at the school, and he is getting close to testing out and going back home. Thankfully, his parents and some extended family were able to make the trip up from Mississippi for the weekend to watch him play basketball, and you could tell Mullins was thrilled to see them there.
Coach Brown had one last thing to say, and it was a glowing review of Special Olympics as a whole, but also a reflection on his own life and career.
“Special Olympics is a big part of my life, and I have so many friends here,” Brown said. “I have so many friends here, and I hope I can do it 14 years more.”