After more than four decades, Danny Brabham sensed it was time to hang up his stopwatch.
Brabham, 66, coached track and field for 44 years, including the past 28 as an assistant coach at Baylor. But on Friday he worked his final day.
Brabham, who flirted with retirement 10 years ago, plans to stick with it this time.
“I’ve got other things I want to do,” Brabham told the Baylor Bear Insider. “We have some traveling we want to do, me and my wife (Debbie). And we have the grandkids. I’ve missed some things, but not major things. I’ve tried not to miss with all my kids and grandkids.
“It’s been a good career. It’s just time for me to move on.”
Baylor’s entire full-time track and field staff was comprised of former BU athletes, and their devotion to the program was apparent. Baylor head coach Todd Harbour said that Brabham would be “impossible to replace.”
“Danny’s been a great fixture at Baylor University for a long time – 28 years, and that doesn’t include the years he was competing,” Harbour said. “He’s coached multiple All-Americans over the years, has had great success coaching our field event athletes. He also coached hurdles; he’s just very versatile.”
Baylor director of track and field Clyde Hart has dubbed Brabham “the best all-around athlete I’ve ever coached.” That’s rather lofty praise, considering the litany of All-Americans and Olympic champions that Hart has overseen in his long tenure.
Brabham was a standout pole vaulter and long jumper out of Roswell, N.M., and still holds the Baylor school record in the long jump at 26-91/2. He won consecutive Southwest Conference titles in the long jump in 1972-73 and finished sixth in the NCAA in the event in ’73. Brabham was inducted in the Baylor Athletic Hall of Fame in 1991.
He coached 16 years on the junior high and high school level in Texas and New Mexico before returning to his alma mater as an assistant in 1989. He served as a jack-of-all-trades – by his count he once coached athletes in 13 of the sport’s 21 events – and oversaw NCAA championship runs by Stacey Bowers (Smith) in the long jump and Bayano Kamani in the hurdles.
Despite his long-reaching impact on the program, Brabham made a relatively quiet exit.
“It happened unexpectedly,” Harbour said. “I think after the NCAA meet Danny went home and thought about it, and he came back and told me about it. A lot of the coaches were already on vacation, so we weren’t able to have an elaborate party. We took him out to lunch at Saltgrass, had a nice steak.”
Harbour said that Baylor is in the midst of hiring Brabham’s successor on staff, and that an announcement should come within the next week.