Small-Town Hero: CSUEB’s Luke Brown Comes From Humble Beginnings

Jared Darling, Sports Photographer

All statistics valid as of 4/24/23

With an estimated population of just 575 people, Luke Brown’s hometown may be small, but his achievements for the Pioneer baseball team have been anything but. Brown, a product of Cathlamet, Washington has utilized his small-town upbringing as a driving force in his success.

With only 150 kids in his high school, including his senior class of just 32 students, Brown became the athletic star in the tight-knit community of Cathlamet. Playing sports year-round was the norm seeing as he was the quarterback, as well as the safety, kicker, and punter for his high school football team. Brown was a one-stop-shop player on the football field in the fall, the starting shooting guard for the basketball team in the winter, and once spring and summer rolled around, he was the standout on his baseball team— his true love.

(Jared Darling)

Despite the small-town stardom, getting recruited out of Cathlamet is a daunting task for any prospective athlete. “Athletics at the high school was a huge part of the community and feeling that level of support really made being an athlete at the school feel special. However, I do think that playing at a small school against other small schools affected my recruiting out of high school. Unless you’re a draft prospect, not many scouts or schools come to watch games for schools in that division.” Being overlooked in Cathlamet was not in the cards for Brown, as he had his sights set on success at the next level, taking along everything his small town taught him.

Cathlamet, traditionally a blue-collar town, has instilled its blueprint in Brown. One of the hardest working guys on the team, Brown credits his small-town upbringing for strengthening his tireless pursuit of mastering his craft; “Being from a place that nobody knows about definitely gives me an edge when I play, I’ve had to earn every opportunity that’s been given to me.”

Brown continued by expressing his never-ending drive instilled while living in Cathlamet. “Because of [my upbringing], I feel like I’ve developed a relentless work ethic and a mental toughness to go toe-to-toe with anyone. I take every game as a chance to prove that I can play at this level and that I belong.”

(Jared Darling)

Brown is not only worthy of being at this level, but he is also excelling. After a stop at Modesto Junior College to help get his name on the map, Brown committed to CSU East Bay and quickly stepped in as a leader. Coincidentally, Brown already had Pioneer roots on the hilltop before his commitment. His grandfather is Pioneer Hall-of-Famer, Jim Santos. The storied Pioneer was the track and field coach for many historic CSU Hayward teams in the ‘70s, where he became the first coach to win national championships between both the men’s and women’s programs. When the Pioneers offered Brown an opportunity to play on the hilltop, he knew that this was where he was supposed to be, and the opportunity to continue his grandfather’s legacy was “the cherry on top.”

Like his grandfather, Brown has also left quite the impression at CSUEB, as he is currently the team leader in runs batted in (31), doubles (16), and tied for the team lead in hits (50) as well as second on the team in stolen bases (7). Brown has proven that he is more than capable of performing at this level in a big way. His team-high in doubles also has him sitting in third place on the California Collegiate Athletic Association leaderboards, as well as a tenth place on the runs batted in and stolen base leaderboards, respectively.

Known for his booming “WOO-HOO” heard all around the diamond, Brown takes pride in rallying his team and creating a fun atmosphere from the start of the game. Recently entrusted with the leadoff spot by Head Coach Mike Cummins, Brown utilizes this spot to gather intel to pass along to the team, allowing him to lead the way. “My favorite part about the leadoff spot is the ability you have to set the tone for the rest of the team with a hit in the first ‘at bat’ of the game,” said Brown. The Pioneer offense has taken on a new dynamic between Brown’s advancement to the top of the order and his successes.

(Jared Darling)

Brown, however, doesn’t take all the credit for his quick rise to success at this level. The star player humbly credits his team for their help along the way. “I first am thankful for the coaches here at East Bay for giving me the opportunity to do what I’ve done so far. The time and knowledge they’ve invested in me have been invaluable. The input and trust from my teammates have also been huge. I’ve been blessed with good results so far.”

Without forgetting his Cathlamet roots, Brown is incredibly thankful to the CSUEB community for making East Bay feel like his home away from home. “I have a lot of pride playing with ‘EB’ on my jersey,” he remarked.

Brown’s rise to success showcases a true drive and perseverance that serves as an inspiration to teammates and fans, demonstrating that no matter how humble your beginnings may be, anything is possible.