FOUR QUESTIONS—A CONVERSATION WITH JOHNNY SOWELL
Johnny Sowell of Monroe High School has been at his high school for over 20 years after a brilliant athletic career there. Sowell has been an administrative assistant at Monroe High and prior to that he was attendance counselor.
He graduated from Monroe in 1981, where an outstanding athlete. He was a member of the team that won the NCHSAA state championship in basketball during the 1979-80 season and twice was named Union County Player of the Year in football.
Interestingly enough, he has been a head coach in football, basketball and track during his tenure at Monroe, coaching all three in the same academic year, That includes serving 20 years as head men's basketball coach and winning the 2010 NCHSAA state 1-A basketball championship. He graduated from Appalachian State University with a degree in criminal justice in 1985.
1. What are the biggest changes you've seen in high school athletics during your career?
The biggest changes are simply that athletes are getting bigger, stronger, and faster. Credit would have to go to coaches spending more time in the weight room and with on the field training, which improves the players’ skills.
2. What is your best memory of high school athletics personally, from your own involvement in them? You have certainly coached some outstanding teams in a couple of different sports.
My best memory would have to be in 2009-2010, when we had a football team that was undefeated in the regular season with an 11-0 record.. In 2010, I had a basketball team that won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 1-A championship, going 32-1 on the season. Those were both very special teams and those are great memories.
3. What would you say is the hardest thing about being a head coach in both football and basketball? Very few people so do that nowadays. And what do you find to be the biggest difference in coaching those two particular sports?
The hardest thing would have to be making time for both sports and monitoring the players’ academic progress throughout the year. You also have the difficult task of having to deal with over 90 kids at one time during the year, instead of only 13 or 14 kids. The biggest difference would be coaching outdoors for about three months and them having to convert to indoors for another three months.
I am able to deal with these challenges in a couple of ways. I can use my years of coaching experience as well as going back and thinking about my own playing days when I played three sports in high school. That certainly helps in the process.
4. In your limited spare time, what do you enjoy being involved with away from coaching?
I really enjoy family time in a number of ways. For instance, I spend time with my loving wife, Denise. I enjoy watching my son, Jalen, play college football at Fayetteville State University. And it is a lot of fun spoiling my new grandbaby, London!