CoW: Johnny Sowell

Coach Johnny Sowell is in his fifth season as head football coach for Monroe High School (Monroe, NC). Although this is only Sowell's fifth season as head coach, he has 24 years of coaching under his belt, including football, basketball and track.

A true jack of all trades, Sowell has spent the previous 11 years at Monroe High as an administrator, in addition to teaching in the classroom and serving as head coach for three sports.

Despite a few rocky seasons, Sowell has led the Redhawks to only their second undefeated regular season since 1963 and ended the year at 12-1, which was highlighted by a berth in the state playoffs.

Although the Redhawks were so close to a championship that once seemed so distant, it only pulled the Redhawk family and Monroe community closer to together, like a family. Sowell, who returned to his home town and high school alma mater after graduating from Appalachian University. The opportunity of teaching and coaching at his alma mater is especially meaningful for Sowell who is deeply connected to the Monroe community.

With family playing an important factor in Sowell's life, it comes with no surprise that he thinks of his players as his own kids. "I treat each of them as if they were my own child, sometimes that means holding them to even higher standards," said Sowell. Just as a father would teach his own son to always try their best and do well, Sowell teaches his players these same life lessons. "Many of the athletes attend church because of Coach Sowell and he is very involved in their academic performance as well as how they behave in school and the community," said Redhawks athletic director Doug Jones.

In efforts to show his players the importance of giving back to the community, Sowell takes his players and track team every year to the Christmas Bureau and Habitat for Humanity to volunteer. In addition, Sowell encourages them to participate in the Reading Buddies Program, which allows the players to act as "big buddies" and read to elementary students in the Monroe community. "I would like to give these boys lessons that they can carry with them for a lifetime. While teaching them about football, I hope they will learn to carry themselves as young men in the community," said Sowell.

In recognition of Sowell, Carolina Panthers Charities will donate $1,000 to Monroe High School's athletic department. All of this year's winners will be honored with an on-field presentation during the Panthers home game versus the New Orleans Saints on January 3, 2010. At that time, the 2009 Coach of the Year will be announced and the winning coach will receive an additional $2,000 grant for his school's athletic department.

The Carolina Panthers High School Coach of the Week program recognizes high school coaches who, through their hard work and dedication to young people, have made a difference in the lives of their players, school and community and provides high schools with financial assistance to help maintain and upgrade their football programs.

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