By Allison Collins
SIDNEY – Varsity basketball coach at Sidney Central School District and Sidney alum Mike Brazee celebrated his 400th career win with a Dec. 20 Warrior victory over Harpursville (65-25). The longtime physical education teacher, coach and mentor was later recognized with a commemorative plaque, presented during the Dec. 22 alumni basketball game hosted by the Sidney Alumni Association.
Brazee, a Sidney resident, said he was honored not only to make the milestone, but to coach where he once played and in a style reminiscent of his own basketball coach, the late Jack Jones.
“It feels good,” he said, “just to be at the same place that long and achieve that kind of winning. I’m proud of that.” Brazee, who graduated with the Class of 1976, added, “It means a lot.”
Brazee, lauded by peers for his versatility on and off the court, attributed some of his success to Jones’ influence.
“He was a man-to-man coach,” Brazee said, “and I’ve kind of adopted his style of coaching and brought it with me for the last 28 years.” He added, “It’s been a great honor to return to Sidney and be able to pick up the basketball program and continue the tradition of things I learned when I was here.”
Brazee, who has led the Warriors to two NYS championships (1997/98 and 2000) and three Section IV championships (1997/98, 2000 and 2007), said that, while his 400th victory was a standout moment, his first state championship remains foremost among his career highlights.
“Definitely the best (memory) is the state championships, but especially the first one, because both of my parents were still alive for that and Jack Jones was still alive for that,” Brazee said. “I can recall being on the floor at Glens Falls and having some of those other people there. That’s probably the biggest highlight.”
Just-retired Sidney physical education teacher Loraine Flyzik said, in her nearly 30 years working alongside Brazee, she saw firsthand what an asset he was to students and athletes.
“For Mike to have picked this profession was a really good thing,” Flyzik said, “because a lot of boys have had him as a wonderful role model, through all the ages.” Extolling his impact on Sidney basketball specifically, Flyzik added, “The nice thing about his basketball program was that he oversaw the whole … program, from third and fourth grade when they first start playing all the way up to the varsity level. And he would see those kids on to the college level.”
Flyzik, who said she and Brazee worked together “like brother and sister,” said Brazee’s versatile approach to physical education expanded to coaching, something she said helped earn Brazee his “incredible” win-loss record.
“It’s very significant,” she said of the milestone, adding, “In order for him to get 400 wins in (28) years is quite incredible.” Calling Brazee “one of easiest people to work with,” Flyzik said, “He was always receptive to new and innovative things and just a great athlete himself. He had that athletic mind, so he was always looking for something better.”
Similarly, retired longtime Sidney junior varsity basketball coach Bob Finnegan said Brazee’s unfailing adaptability has kept his coaching and his students’ overall performance – academic and athletic – strong.
“He’s very adaptable and very willing to change his approach based on the personnel that he has,” Finnegan said, “and I think that makes a good coach.”
Finnegan, who said Brazee’s 400th win was “really remarkable,” added, “But it’s more than coaching … Academics are also very important and he makes sure (students) are maintaining good grades so that they can play. He’s kind of hard on them about making sure academics are important to them as well, (because) the whole concept of the student-athlete is very important to Mike.”
Brazee anticipates retiring from teaching at the close of the 2017-18 school year, though he said he will “probably stick with coaching for awhile after that.”
To learn more about Sidney Warriors Basketball, visit sidneycsd.org.
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