Willie Spears

Willie Spears

Win At Home is a series of opinion articles written by author and motivational speaker Willie Spears. Be sure to catch the Win At Home Podcast in January 2022 and order the Win at Home devotional for leaders now at www.williespears.com.

Birmingham, Alabama native Coach Bobby Bowden passed away this week at the age of 91. His 377 wins rank second all-time in major college football. He played college football at the University of Alabama in 1958 and admired legendary Alabama Coach Paul Bear Bryant who impacted his life with the way he coached. My social media feed was full of people talking about the impact Coach Bowden made on their lives.

I have watched several videos of his former players and coaches talk about his impact on their lives. These individuals talk about his impact as a person more so than a coach. They are winning at home because he impacted them mentally and spiritually. Only God knows a person’s heart and where they will spend eternity, but several people have said we all know where he is, referring to heaven.

He left that sort of impact on everyone he encountered. I was not good enough to play for Coach Bowden. Several of my friends, including Charlie Ward, Corey Fuller, Kez McCorvey, Bill Ragans, and Kylar Hall, played for the legendary coach. One of my former players, Ben Lampkin, was a special teams captain for Bowden in his later years.

Although I was not blessed enough to play for Coach Bowden, I met him on a handful of occasions. When I coached at Jefferson County High School, I was 25 minutes from Florida State University, and I would drive up to watch practice and sometimes sit in meetings.

One time Coach Bowden was coming out of his office and motioned for me to walk with him. He said he saw me on the news the night before and told me I was doing a great job at Jefferson. You could have knocked me down with a feather. He treated me like I was special.

On another occasion, he was speaking at Camden County High School in Kingsland, Georgia, and just like the time I heard him at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) breakfast in Tallahassee, Florida, he was hilarious. His charisma was incredible and natural. Bowden proved there was another way to lead in a society that depicts football coaches as foul mouth tough guys.

When coaches would make fun of me for not using profanity, I would think of Coach Bowden. When sportswriters would question my coaching ability because of my personality and natural ability to make others laugh, I would think of Coach Bowden. When people would question my commitment to football because of my intentionality to focus on family and faith during the season, I would think of Coach Bowden. He was my Elvis, Michael Jordan, Michael Jackson, Oprah, or United States of America President.

I was star-struck every time I was in his presence. I wanted to be Coach Bowden in every way. He used to host an FCA Golf Tournament at Killearn Country Club in Tallahassee, Florida, every year. He hosted the last one in the spring of 2010, and an FCA representative asked me to say a few words.

When I was asked weeks earlier, I had no idea Coach Bowden would be there, and I definitely did not know this would be his last time hosting this event. Earlier that day, I interviewed for a head football coaching position and sat down with Coach Bowden at this event and talked about this opportunity. You talk about a kid in a candy store. This was incredible.

I was beaming ear to ear and soaking up everything he said. Billy Graham’s son once said he would bump into people, and they would say I met your father, and they would give a particular date and a particular city and tell how he impacted their lives in those few moments.

I imagine Terry, Tommy, Ginger, Jeff, Steve, and Robyn will experience the same thing. Coach Mark Richt told the story of how Coach Bowden led him to Christ and how Bowden made each assistant Coach spend time with their family.

He told them they could see their family in the morning or night, but they had to spend time with them every day. Coach Richt said he fed his children breakfast, read them a devotional, and drove them to school every day because Coach Bowden insisted. Coach Bowden left a legacy of winning at home.

Three ways to Win At Home:

1. Cuss Less.

2. Spend time with your family.

3. Treat everyone like they are special.

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