Starmount honors Brown on anniversary

Matthew Gorry Sports Writer

October 16, 2013

BOONVILLE — One year after the tragic death of Starmount alum Meme Brown, the school and community continue to honor her lasting legacy.

Assistant Athletic Director Heath Courts and volleyball Head Coach Jon Symons spearheaded an effort to recognize Brown as the volleyball season winds down, billing the Rams’ home match against Alleghany last week as the first “Meme Brown Night” to keep her memory alive.

The honors didn’t stop there as Courts unveiled that the school has renamed the girls’ weight room as the “Meme Brown Fight Like a Girl Weight Room.”

“It just shows the heart Starmount High School has for the youth that go to school here and the support they give to their students’ families,” her father, David, said. “I think it’s a goal that any parent would have who have children involved in any activity to be recognized for their spirit and the effort in which they put forth.

“It is certainly with pride that we’re recognized with the smile that Meme always had,” he continued. “It’s a credit to Starmount High School for the courage and fortitude that they gave my child to play. I’ve had two to come through here, and they both have learned a lot of character.”

Symons said he knew that as time went on, he wanted to honor Meme in some way. And having a “Meme Brown Night” was the perfect way to capture her spirit for which she played volleyball and lived her life.

“We’re all still devastated. There’s not a day that I don’t come into school without thinking of her,” he explained. “But we also knew that as time went on, we wanted to do something with Meme.

“We joked around that she didn’t have an inside voice — it was loud in the gym and just screaming and having a good time. But she also focused and she could flat-out play the game. As hard as she played and the energy she brought…those are the characteristics that I would love to watch my kids emulate,” Symons continued. “So for me and my program, that’s what I want to see, those characteristics that she had before she passed. And having a night like tonight makes that happen.”

Symons, who still keeps a picture and poem of Meme above his desk at school, continued saying that the most meaningful compliment he receives about his championship team is how hard they play — the way Meme played.

“I appreciate everybody when they say ‘you have a really good team.’ But the meaningful thing is when they say ‘your team plays so hard,’ because that’s the way Meme played,” he said. “And that’s the point I want to drive home with a night like this.”

After sharing stories and presenting Meme’s family with her retired No. 32 jersey in an emotional pregame ceremony, Courts gave the family a tour of the new locker room.

“We’re just overwhelmed with the love and support that her school has shown for her. It shows what kind of teenager she was and the impact that she had on lives and all the lives she continues to touch,” her mother, Sharon, said.

“The gratitude we have for the community and the support that the community has given to us and the support that they have given to the Meme Brown Fight Like a Girl Scholarship Fund is something we can’t measure. All the support is immeasurable,” David added.

The Browns and the community undoubtedly will continue to “fight like a girl,” because that’s the way Meme did.

Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or mgorry@civitasmedia.com.