axemm18 Posted December 27, 2011 Report Share Posted December 27, 2011 Coach Outlaw: The Man, The Leader Im in disbelief and continue to be in shock as a I write this. Over a decade ago in 1996 I was a college student at Stephen F. Austin State University when I first met John Outlaw.. All I knew about the man or thought about him was that he was simply another head football coach. I was blessed with the opportunity to report, shoot, and anchor sportscasts locally at KTRE while I was a student at SFA. My 1st experience and impression of John Outlaw was that of a man who was prideful and had a genuine sense of pride in his student-athletes at Lufkin High School and it wasn't limited to his football players. I remember my first story in 1997 was the rigors of recruiting in which the student-athlete endured. Coach Outlaw knew I was a young man who was simply trying to get his feet wet and involve him. I instantly hit it off well with him despite the rough exterior and concern he had for how his student-athletes were going to be portrayed in the public's eye. From that point on I knew what type of man he was and what his expectations were. He treated me with the utmost respect, although he remained cautious of how he communicated with me. Made sense I was a green rookie type. I left for San Angelo to jump into this career full time. I knew in the back of my mind that I wanted to return to East Texas despite my passion to return to my hometown in Austin, TX eventually. Im not sure why, but East Texas was where I wanted to return to for my 2nd full time job as a sports anchor and reporter. My wish was granted by Tina Alexander and KTRE after I communicated and expressed interested in possibly accepting positions in other cities like Lubbock, Waco, Tulsa, and other markets outside the state. Bryan Mays who was the #2 sports guy at KTRE was also an influence on me. He and I always made a reference to John Outlaw and the Lufkin football program and how "cool" it was to witness that program grow, mature, and develop due to John Outlaw and his loyal staff he had in place. When I returned and was blessed with to return to East Texas, I could NOT wait to speak to Coach Outlaw in addition to the strong, loyal, and talented collection of East Texas high school football coaches. My first full time season was 1999. Coach Outlaw and I spoke countless times every week mainly small talk but the conversation was more than just the stories I pursued involving his Panthers. I remember he and joked about how Reggie McNeal was given the keys to his offense before Reggie was legally old enough to drive a car. Outlaw also made it clear that he did NOT want any video of his team the week leading up to the Nacogdoches game despite the lopsided nature of the "Oldest Rivalry in Texas." Our relationship grew in ways I did not acknowledge until after the 2001 season, the magical Lufkin Panthers season in which the season gloriously ended in the Astrodome as 5A-II State Champs inside of the Astrodome after beating Austin Westlake. I truly became a fan that day and realized it. After that game, Coach Outlaw made it a point to all of the Houston media and to Fox Sports Southwest that he was going to talk to "his guys" Bryan Mays and me before anyone. I will never forget that. I cannot remember my exact question but Coach Outlaw made an impression on me immediately by giving all credit to the City of Lufkin and the Panther Nation by pointing towards the stands of the Astrodome and saying "look at all those humans up there"! He was overwhelmed by the 40,000 plus in attendance that day and how the Lufkin Panther nation truly made an impact that day representing this proud program and supporting Coach Outlaw. Since that December day in H-town, John Outlaw became more than another coach who I held a professional relationship with. I learned so much from him. Not only did he reach out and express his concern about my life and Bryan Mays' life, Outlaw talked about his beautiful wife Francie, his son Stephen, his desire for the young men in the Lufkin football program to become successful adults in life. He always told me about the special cups of coffee with Roy Knight and Dr. Sharp each morning throughout the week. I never attended, although I tried to set my alarm to do so, but those guys early starts to the day was too early for me. lol I knew that those men were more than just administrators to him, Sharp and Knight were best friends to Coach Outlaw. Outlaw loved his hometown, Ozark, Arkansas. He glowed with pride in what he accomplished as the head coach in Arkadelphia, Arkanasas and in Sherman, Texas. I quickly learned that Outlaw fell in love with Lufkin, Texas and East Texas. He expressed how special the people in Lufkin were and how special and unique the football family of Lufkin truly was. You see because of him the Lufkin Panthers were my Odessa Permian Panther program. The true defnition of what Texas high school football was all about. As time passed and seasons passed, Coach Outlaw and I became such great friends. We had our ups and downs due to my position as a media member, but througout it all I felt we had a mutual respect for each other. As I learned about and became close to the numerous families directly linked with the Lufkin football program and Coach Outlaw, I felt the passion and respect for the man referred to as Coach "O"! Past players, current, and future players were all loyal to the man mainly because he cared and painted pictures of a future for each them to succeed outside of football. In return each and everyone of his players were ALL IN and committed themselves to him, their coaching staff, and to the pride of Lufkin. You see Outlaw's plan was to develop and devise a plan in which every young man in Lufkin would have an opportunity to succeed. Not all were able to suit up in the purple and gold and wear that purple helmet with the PACK logo, but they all knew and respected what Outlaw created. One of the many memories that stands out was when Coach Outlaw voluntarily called me on my cell phone to just say thanks and that he appreciated a story I did on a player of his. He didnt have to do that, in fact nor did he have to time away from his busy schedule to make an effort to reach out to me. That simply relects the type of person I am trying to describe and properly honor. I moved on from Lufkin after the 2006 season to Oklahoma City, but maintained my relationship with Coach Outlaw. We mainly communicated by email and by text messages. The exchanges ranged from concerns about my happiness, my personal life, and if I was okay. To me that meant A LOT to me.. I remember Oklahoma State University head football coach Mike Gundy talking to me about how Coach Outlaw made the trip to Stillwater for a coaches convention just to see Dez Bryant and make sure he was doing well. Each of the kids and young men Outlaw has coached glow with pride whenever you mention Coach Outlaw. Jamarkus McFarland, who is a defensive tackle at the University of Oklahoma, was all smiles whenever I was able to see him on the OU campus while covering the Sooners. Today, is a tough one for me as it is for thousands across the nation. Coach Outlaw will be laid to rest. My eyes are welling up with tears as I write this. You may not care about one word I write. Maybe Im just re-hashing what so many have already expressed about Coach Outlaw, but he had a special talent to make an impact on people. A gift to communicate and lead. Honestly, I absorbed his words and watched from afar and from the outside how to guide and communicate and how to simply love the simple things in life. One of Coach Outlaw's favorites was to put a cap on a day with a "cheeseburger and a miller light". I continue to pray for each and everyone associated with Coach Outlaw, the city of Lufkin, and his family. Shawn Clynch Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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