KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Every Rivalry Thursday, you can find Chad Brown running up and down the sidelines, holding the parabolic microphone to give the audience at home the best sound possible. In return, that parab gives him one of the best experiences of his life.
“Everywhere we go, somebody knows who he is,” said Heather Kooch.
“No matter where we walk in, ‘Hey Chad, how’s it going?’ Somebody knows him wherever we are,” said Joe McNish.
There’s no doubt Chad Brown is a celebrity.
“We went to Florida last year to Destin and we were walking down to the beach and a coach from another state walks up to him and says, ‘Hey CB45. What are you doing here?”‘
There’s no doubt, Chad Brown keeps busy.
“I do the parab, and I referee for TSSAA,” said Brown.
“He keeps the books for Central high school for basketball,” said Kooch.
“He works at Walmart and has to be there on Friday mornings at about 4 a.m.,” added Mark Packer.
“I even have my own podcast on Wednesday nights at 9 o’clock,” said Brown.
But at six months old, there were a lot of doubts surrounding Chad’s life.
“He was diagnosed with a neuro-muscular disorder that affected his muscles, his fine motor skills and things like that,”‘ said Kooch. “From a very early age he had to go through occupational and physical therapy to learn how to sit, to stand, to do anything.”
But one skill he learned sticks out from the rest.
“They just told me to throw the ball back to them and get the ball back to them,” said Brown. “I always never gave up and pushed myself to throw the ball back to my teacher.”
“That started his love for anything ball related, whether it be football, baseball, basketball,” said Kooch.
Chad may not be able to play sports, but he sure knows a lot about them.
“He has books upon books upon books of stats that he’s just written down,” said Kooch. “He has sports figures, literally thousands of sports figures.”
“I’ve got Dennis Rodman with different hair, probably got seven of them,” said Brown. “Peyton Manning figures, got his dad Archie Manning.”
Professional athletes may take over his room, but high school sports take over his life. That was evident when Chad met Joe McNish of Rivalry Thursday.
“We would just start talking and I realized just how much he loved high school football,” said McNish. “I said, ‘Hey you want to go to the game with me?’ And so he said yeah. So we started going to the games. After the first year, Mark calls me and says ‘Hey, I’m thinking of getting Chad to do the parab job. You think he’ll do that?’ And I said, ‘Oh Mark, you’ll make his life, he’ll love it. He said, ‘Can you believe I’ve got it! I’m on the crew! I’m on the crew!'”
10 years later, Chad is still on the crew, which is now…
“A brotherhood,” said Brown. “That’s what Rivalry Thursday is all about. It’s about family.”
That family has given Chad a reason to smile, a smile that’s shared with those around him.
“I never got to stand on any sideline and watch him play sports because he was not able to do that, so I get to stand on the sidelines and watch him enjoy a sport but also be a part of broadcasting that and letting other people see that and it just makes me very, very proud,” said Kooch.
“I don’t know if there are many joys in what we do with high school football like what Chad has brought to what we do,” said Packer. “More so than any football game we put on TV, I see the smile on his face and that means the world to me.”
“Honestly I get a little choked up sometimes when I have a lull and can take a break from writing down numbers and I’ll look down from the press box and I’ll see him running up and down the sidelines,” said McNish. “I do, I get a little emotional about it because I know how happy that makes him.”