• Jon Serrette

Coach Keanon Lowe- Definition of a football coach

Updated: Jun 21

High School Football Puts Life On the Line and Shows Compassion Only a Coach can understand

Winning isn’t everything. It is the only thing. This was Vince Lombardi’s famous quote.. However, in his Autobiography “ When Pride Still Mattered” he stated what he intended to say is "Winning isn't everything. The will to win is the only thing.. How does that apply to the story of coach Kenan Lowe and the young man who came to the school with a gun? The boy stated he was sorry, he felt that he had no other choice…. He felt alone.. Desperate ..frustrated in this world which is happening all too often to our young people today. This is not even a race issue. All children are experiencing this. It is why the so many of them need medication to cope. The inability to cope with life’s challenges. .The inability to understand what the “will to win” really means.

True, it is easy to

  • Self Medicate with illegal drugs

  • Be prescribed drugs by a psychiatrist

  • Feel hopeless and take your own life

  • Feel hopeless and take your life and the lives of many others

This is the unfortunate reality of our times. The Maslownian conundrum of starting with Self Actualization which in some generations was not reached until deep into your maturity. Because ones basic survival was in question and they barely knew where their next meal was coming from. Kids are forced to answer that that question now.

Not to get too over the top for those that are not aware of Maslow.. it was really the ONLY thing that stuck with me through High School. It stems from the prioritizing ones needs

  • Physiological Needs – Food Shelter Clothing .. etc.

  • Safety Needs – Access to resources

  • Love and Belonging – Friendship Family,

  • Esteem- sense of status and respect of peer

  • Self Actualization – desire to become the most you can be

Most people take for granted the first three because for many generations this was NOT a guarantee. Often times the Esteem need is what causes the short circuiting of Self Actualization 4 phases are all rolled into your life that you START with.. what is life really about…

Without obstacles and challenges for a young man. Challenges --- actually overcoming challenges is what it takes to overcome things in life. Our society has very few outlets for young men to do that. Videos Games, Smart Phones, Social Media, has eliminated most of that. Even team sports has become super isolated since you have 1.5 hrs to do Baseball, before you head to your 1 hour basketball game to your soccer practice…..

However there is only one youth/High School sport where your participation requires you to reset your hierarchy of needs. That sport happens to be football. Regardless of if you reach the heights of Maslows needs or have reached none of them.. you all start at the same baseline. It strips you of everything you think you knew about yourself and you realized that in the first 30 minutes. All coaches are different however most practices start the same. A test… AKA Cals it makes you start from scratch.

As time goes on—you have to realize the following

  • Is my body going to allow me to make it through this – the flight or fight kicks in quick – Physiological Needs - I have a lost more kids on running that first lap than i have with any contact drills.

  • Can I make it through this – Safey Needs

  • Damn these other 40 guys are here doing this too, I need to decide if I am going to be one of them- Love and Belonging

  • Over time regardless of your playing time you realize that you are a part of something bigger than you—Esteem

  • 40 Men dressed in the same uniform getting ready for the game—again no matter if you play both ways or do not play at all.. you walk through that tunnel together.. you walk on the field together.. you hold hands together.. you spend 5 days a week together.. you had made it—Self Actualization….

For a kid to feel like all this was MISSING from his life—shows that being a part of something matters.. Maybe if he had something to be a part of.. His life would have been different.

As famous coach Mike Tenaglia says .. and I know he is not the originator of this quote.. but he says it all the time.. How you walk through the fire counts. And I am not saying all coaches are that way, but coach Lowe DID seem that way. That is why in a moment where fear and anguish should have consumed him.. He knew how to embrace that young man when that man needed it most. Something youth and high school coaches are all too aware of. It is there reality day in and day out.

Coach stated

“Then it was just me and that student. It was a real emotional time," Lowe said in May. "I felt compassion for him. A lot of times, especially when you’re young, you don’t realize what you’re doing until it’s over."


I admire any man that is able to separate the danger and see him for what he was. I lonely scared young man. Football is the last all inclusive sport, relatively speaking. Tall and skinny.. we have a spot for you. Short and round and slow, hey you can plug that B gap in a 3 Technique. Have 2 left feet but can follow direction.. Son you can play defensive end, keep your outside hand free and keep everything even with your inside shoulder. Hand eye coordination is required for most other sports. With football we start every season with .. Ok this is what I got, How can i put these pieces together to make a team. You are not going to be able to make the movie Rudy in ANY other sport. It can be a brutal and unforgiving game. But for most coaches, and players, it is about inclusion. Coach Kenan was that coach. Coach Kenan is that man.

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