Coach Rowells: Return to Football

Since Lakes first opened its doors back in August of 2004, Coach Kurt Rowells has been at the school. In the last twenty years, Coach Rowells has gone from a football player, to coach, to athletic director and a father. Now he is back on the field.
Coach Rowells: Return to Football
Drew Schmidt and Jack Reece

LCHS Dean and coach Kurt Rowells grew up loving football and every aspect about the sport. His father played Division I football at Southern Illinois University. “I never played organized football until my freshman year of high school,” Rowells said. Performing at an elite level in high school as an offensive tackle and punter landed him a scholarship at North Park University. 

At North Park, Rowells would eventually meet current Lakes Head Football Coach Jason Ellerman. “I met Rowells during our playing days at North Park,” said Ellerman. “We stayed close after college and have gone on family vacations too.”

After graduating from North Park, Rowells received an offer to become a teacher in the Social Studies department, as well as the Head Coach for the Lakes Track and Field team. “I walked out [the job interview] after 20 minutes and I was the head boys track coach… I had to figure that whole thing out [referring to him never being a head coach before]” said Rowells. 

With his grit and determination, Rowells and the Lakes Eagles Football team went on a six-year playoff streak, from 2009 to 2015. Following the 2015-16 season for the Eagles, Coach Rowells obtained the position of Athletic Director at Lakes. He remained as the school Athletic Director for five years until he moved to the district Athletic Director position. 

Following the 2022-23 school year, Athletic Director Rowells left the District office for a position as the dean at Lakes. While the district Athletic Director was a significant promotion for Rowells, he missed what really brought him to Lake Villa: coaching. 

“Some things changed in his career (referring to Rowells), and Coach Christian (former offensive line coach for the Eagles) decided with his work schedule he needed to coach at Grant,” said Coach Ellerman, “so I asked Coach Rowells if he’d come back, and I kind of had to talk him into it. He was a little apprehensive at first because he was worried he forgot how to coach football.” Rowells later accepted the role to return back to the football team as the new offensive line coach.

Rowells’ coaching plan is very similar to the plan he had in his last season as a coach. “It really starts with confidence,” Rowells said. “The first thing is to build relationships, to be an energetic person that you know students gravitate towards.” 

Another part of coaching that Coach Rowells missed was seeing a player gain confidence. “Here’s a young man who never played the game before, never put on a helmet before, didn’t know what an offensive lineman was,” Rowells said, referring to a new Lakes Football player.

“Day one to now, right? He’s gained the confidence, gained an incredible sense of brotherhood and teamwork, learned all the great lessons in a short period of time, and that’s what makes me proud as a coach,” said Rowells, referring to the same player.

While Rowell’s first season back as a coach wasn’t as promising as he hoped, he knows the Eagles will come back stronger next season. “The goal is the state championship… and with this new group of guys, we can get there,” Rowells said.   

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