New head coach Clint Bowen meets Lawrence High football team during introduction meeting
photo by: Shane Jackson
A week later than scheduled due to last week’s winter storm, new head coach Clint Bowen finally got a chance to meet the Lawrence High football team Wednesday afternoon in the LHS cafeteria.
The whole meeting lasted about 20 minutes. Bowen spoke to the team about why he came back to LHS after graduating from there in 1990 and what he expects from his players with him leading the program. Members of the team were socially distanced, sitting at separate tables while wearing masks throughout the meeting.
It was an important first step for Bowen, who was named the new LHS football coach on Feb. 8 after over two decades as an assistant at the collegiate level.
“This whole thing to me comes down to the kids knowing that they count on me and trust me,” Bowen said after the meeting. “The whole trust thing, there is no way to hurry it. That’ll be the big thing, just getting around them enough to let them know that we care about them.”
“These team meetings, I’m just the next grown man sitting in the front of the room right now,” Bowen added with a chuckle.
But some members are more familiar with Bowen than that. Multiple soon-to-be seniors grew up playing youth sports with Baylor Bowen, who is Clint’s eldest son, and that means they already knew the new Lions coach.
Noah Smith, a talented 6-foot-4, 298-pound left tackle, was one of those players and sat near the front of the cafeteria while Bowen talked to the team.
“It really gives you a lot of hope for this next year to continue to win,” Smith said. “Because I’ve only lost one regular season game in my past two years on varsity, so continuing that would be great.”
Acen Villegas, who has been the left guard beside Smith over the last two seasons, also admitted to knowing Bowen from back in his elementary days. Villegas said he hopes that it will help make the transition much more seamless for many of the upcoming seniors.
“It wasn’t like a new coach was walking in the building,” Villegas said. “Usually the first year with a new coach is kind of hostile. I don’t think we are going to have that period. I think he’s going to come in and go to work.”
photo by: Shane Jackson
While the transition might be smoother, Bowen spent a majority of the introduction meeting telling the team what he expects from the program by listing out his three core values.
The first value was toughness, which Bowen noted could mean just getting out of bed on time in the morning. Bowen’s second value was integrity, as in doing the right thing both on and off the football field. His final value was legacy.
“I’ve changed those up through the years,” Bowen said of why he picked those principles. “Toughness has probably been the one that’s been my standard, no matter where. I just think it’s important (for) how they live their lives.”
“Our version of toughness really comes down to being accountable and being responsible,” Bowen added.
Bowen has never used legacy before, but felt it was appropriate when talking about his expectations for the LHS football program. He noted that legacy doesn’t mean just wining one state title, and it’s more about stringing multiple championships together.
For Bowen, that really starts by getting more people involved with LHS football. During that meeting, he asked the freshman class to stand up and about 17 kids rose to their feet. Bowen told the team that number should be closer to 80, and that it directly reflects on the senior class.
“A freshman class should never be 17,” Bowen said. “The kids aren’t embracing their legacy. It’s bigger than them. You have to bring the next group along with you, so I thought legacy was a big part of what needed to be said to these guys.”
“There is more to Lawrence High School than just taking care of your current team,” Bowen added. “This place is bigger than that. This place represents more than that, and that’s why I chose legacy.”