Ebo Browne: A True Success Story
April 29, 2011
George “Ebo” Browne doesn’t have to think long when asked of his favorite memory during his time at the University of Kansas.
A four-year middle distance runner for the KU track team, Browne has seen firsthand the passion and hatred exhibited between Kansas and Missouri in “The Border Showdown.” That’s why in January of 2011, the 4X400 meter relay at the indoor KU-MU duel sticks out to Browne the most. With Kansas trailing the meet with just one event left, Browne watched his teammates make a heroic final comeback.
“We were down by a few points and they had beaten us the previous two years,” Browne explained. “All the Missouri fans were doing their chant, they thought they had it. But our anchor leg, Keron Toussiant, even though he lost a spike, he still caught the Missouri guy. We beat them in the race and ended up winning the track meet. It was pretty great.”
While Browne has collected a lifetime of memories in his four years with the track team, it has been off the track where he has truly excelled. After graduating in May of 2007 from LawrenceFree StateHigh School, it wasn’t a sure thing that he would even be eligible to compete at the college level coming out of high school. Browne arrived at KU with what was described as “below average skill” by his standardized test scores, which were almost too low for him to be able to compete at KU. Many student-athletes in his position would have faltered, doing the bare minimum with their academics and, in all likelihood, not make it through the four years needed to graduate.
Browne, however, embraced his academic troubles and began to regularly seek help from the KU athletics academic support staff. He began meeting with Mary Beth Marchiony, track and field’s senior academic counselor, and the two quickly hit it off. With Marchiony’s guidance, Browne started to thrive in the classroom, achieving levels of success he never thought were possible. At first, even Marchiony was skeptical that Browne would do well in the college classrooms. Her opinion quickly changed after she first began tutoring him on a regular basis during his sophomore year.
“Ebo represents all that is good about college athletics,” said Marchiony. “He believes in himself and his ability. He knows he can be a scholar and he never accepts mediocrity. He will graduate far exceeding the expectations most had for him. He learned he was capable of great things, and he made believers out of the rest of us!”
Browne will graduate in May with a degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences with a GPA that has improved vastly during his tenure in Lawrence. He is currently involved in a practicum course that allows him to work with kids who have violated Kansas truancy laws (kids from ages 7-18 who have been prosecuted for failing to attend school on a regular basis). Several kids are assigned to him and he mentors them through the court process. Browne says it is a difficult job but is very rewarding in the end.
“I’ve been having a great time,” Browne said. “It’s been really cool working with all those kids.”
It’s difficult to know where he finds the time to excel in both the classroom and in his internship, especially when he spends most of his time with his passion, track. Browne started running as a way to stay in shape for football in high school, but it quickly turned into much more. He was a member of the 4X400-meter relay team that broke the LawrenceFree State record in 2007. His performances quickly caught the attention of head coach Stanley Redwine and the KU track team. Browne made the decision to come to KU and has had no regrets since. As one of the Jayhawks’ most consistent 400 meter and 800 meter runners, he has run several sub-two minute 800 meter races and has earned several high finishes.
Although he does put hours of work into his own improvement, Browne puts more emphasis on how the team performs, pushing his teammates to their own peak performances. As a team captain he admits he takes pride when one of his teammates performs well. Browne says that the relationships he has formed with his teammates are more important than anything else he will take away from his time at Kansas.
“Definitely my teammates,” Browne replied when asked what he’ll remember most from his time at KU. “Just hanging out with all of them, traveling with them and getting close to them over the past four years has been a blast. I’ll never forget it.”
With the final walk down Champanile Hill just over three weeks away, Browne has begun to take stock of all he has accomplished and everyone who has helped him along the way to earning his degree. He will be the first to admit that it hasn’t been easy and none of it could have been done without the help of so many.
“The academic staff here has been great,” Browne said. “Mary Beth (Marchiony), ‘Scooter’ (Scott Ward) or anyone who has helped me out with papers and all my other school work. Coach Redwine, Coach Brewer, Coach Whittlesey, and all the other coaches have been really helpful and easy to talk to. And of course my teammates, they have helped me in all aspects of my life. In track or if it’s school, if I’m down they’re always there.”
Even with so many helping him along the way, there is no doubt that the majority of the credit must go to Browne. Because of his tenacity and hard work, he has been on the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll and was named an Academic All-Big 12 student-athlete. Two honors that, just three and a half years ago, some thought were improbable.
As the track season winds down, Browne continues to be optimistic. Every race he enters, he runs like it is his last. His selfless attitude has not changed though, even when he should be looking to end his own career on a high note.
“I really want to help the team out somehow,” Browne said of his goals as he ends his track career. “With conference season coming up I would just like to do whatever I can to help them out. If that means scoring at conference, great. If that means working hard and pushing my teammates in practice, that’d be good too.”
When asked what he wants his legacy to be after leaving KU, he gave a short, but powerful answer.
“I just want to leave knowing that I gave it my all,” Browne said.
Whether it’s on the track or in the classroom, it’s safe to say Ebo Browne will leave KU knowing he has done just that.