My article below appeared in the November issue of Hill Country Happenings.. Click here for more articles and information about happenings in the Texas Hill Country
November is the month of thanks especially for good role models in sports. Let’s first look at the meaning of role model. According to Encarta ® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] ©, the definition is “somebody to be copied: a worthy person who is a good example for other people.” Since sports figures are such an influence and kids look up to them, it’s especially important for those involved in sports to be positive role models for our youth. This includes not breaking the rules or expecting to be exceptions to the rules.
Although the ones involved will remain nameless, let’s look at some of negative conduct found in sports today: Arrests for DWI, carrying a concealed firearm, indecent exposure, assault, etc., slamming fists into dugout walls, using foul language, arguing with an umpire or referee’s decision, deliberate physical force injuring the opposition, bragging in press interviews about parties just short of an orgy, testing positive for drugs deemed not permissible for the sport, sex with under aged, and falsifying college transcripts. Is this behavior becoming for a role model for our youth? NO!
Let’s instead recognize someone who is a positive example — one of the Hill Country’s role models for our youth — Jeff Kowalski, Athletic Director and Head Coach of Ingram Tom Moore High School.
Jeff grew up in football playing for powerhouse Euless Trinity High School and then called the University of North Texas home. As he developed his coaching career in North Texas, he was involved in athletic programs at Liberty Christian in Argyle, Springtown, his alumni Trinity and Ana. Throughout the transitions, his wife Jamie, a Burleson native, and their two kids adapted to each school he went to. There were challenges like the time he got the job at Trinity and they couldn’t sell the house in Springtown. Commuting and many hours away from his family became a necessity. Throughout it all, he still wanted to reach his goal of being an Athletic Director and his family fully supported him. Four years ago, another opportunity surfaced, this time taking the family from their North Texas roots to the Texas Hill Country.
He inherited a football program which had lost all thirty games in the previous three years. The building process was a challenging one with a tease in 2010 with two wins. The winning column continued to elude Coach Kowalski while the next town over, Kerrville, dominated the football scene with trips to the playoffs every year. In September of this year, I visited with Jeff. Our paths may have crossed before. My husband and I lived just a few miles away from where he was playing ball in high school. He saw my “36” on my Lotta Sports T-Shirt and shared that his number was “36.” He pushed wheelchairs at DFW Airport while I was a flight attendant for Delta. His coaching job in Argyle was in the town adjacent to where Rick and I later moved.
When we talked, the Ingram Warriors were off to an incredible 4 and 0 start. The next game they were facing a team from Early who had not won a game this year. He cautioned his players that Early had played very good teams and they needed to stay focused. At game time, storms moved into the area and heavy rains drenched the playing field. Their first district win escaped them and the Warriors took their first loss of the season.
Despite the Warriors not having a perfect season this year, they are fortunate having Coach Kowalski as a mentor. He not only believes in administering a team concept, but more importantly holds his players accountable for their actions. If you break the rules, have an unexcused missed practice or fail to keep up your grades, you don’t play.
Off the field, finding a cure for cancer is a passion for Jeff as he has lost loved ones to the horrific disease and supports ones battling it. He has organized a fundraiser offering pink T-Shirts where proceeds support both breast cancer research and the school. Jeff not only serves as a positive role model for the youth of our community, his wife does also teaching kindergarten at Ingram Elementary. She too understands the importance of leading our youth in the right direction. Let’s be thankful for people who care about being positive role models for our youth like Jeff and Jamie Kowalski.