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Monroe High Coach Johnny Sowell reaches 400 career wins

Monroe High School Coach Johnny Sowell is now 400-163 since taking over the boys basketball program in 1990.

In 1990, gas was a $1.34 a gallon, the Simpsons and Seinfeld debuted and Mariah Carey won the Grammy for best new artist.

It was also the year Monroe High coach Johnny Sowell took over the basketball program at his alma mater.

Sowell reached a milestone on Friday, (Jan. 11, 2013). The Redhawks' 64-26 home win over Union Academy marked the 400th victory of his career.

Midway through his 23rd season, Sowell has a career record of 400-163.

After winning a state title as a player at Monroe in the 1979-80, Sowell coached the Redhawks to a state crown 30 years later in 2010.

“When I was finishing at Appalachian (State), at the time you find a job,” said Sowell. “I knew I wanted to work with juveniles because I majored in criminal justice and to come back and work in a high school with kids is a great experience.”

For Sowell, the accomplishment is in an honor.

“Now that it is over, once you sit down and think about it, it is a great accomplishment,” he said. “A lot of people can’t say that on the high school level, and that comes with a lot of support with people in this building.”

Sowell is a selfless leader, and puts a heavy focus on academics. He's quick to credit those around him for the basketball program's success.

“A lot of (wins) comes from those guys that we have had over the years," Sowell said. "You can’t do it as a coach yourself. You have to have some good players, players that believe in your system and understand what is going on.

"To accept that award and to get to that 400 mark, I put that on those guys. A lot of the credit goes to Coach (Jamie “Luke”) Collins and my assistant’s coaches in the past and now."

Sowell says he hasn't changed much as a coach during his 400 wins.

“I think I still have the same intensity,” he said. "I don’t get out on the floor and play with them as much, but I focus a lot on defense and try to get more control on offense.”

Sowell said he enjoys it as much as the day he started, and retirement isn't even on the horizon.

“I don’t worry about it, I’m having fun right now,” said Sowell with a smile when asked how much longer he will coach. “I always told somebody when I’m not having fun, it’s time to give it to somebody else. I don’t see that happening any time soon.”

The all-time wins record for a coach in North Carolina is 818, held by Harvey Reid, who coached at Wilson Fike from 1955-1991.

--Reprinted with permission from The Enquirer Journal.

Written by: Ash Hutto, from The Enquirer Journal
Posted: Jan 17, 2013 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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