Football coach Clint Bowen balances family life with 12-hour work day
By: Kate Miller
It would be safe to say that Clint Bowen lives, breathes and eats football. Rather than a normal nine-hour workday, Bowen’s days include 12 hours of football practices, planning and administration. Bowen looks forward to every day he gets to do what he loves — coach football.
“When the players walk in the building, and you actually start to get to the part of the job that we all signed up for — to coach football and to be around the players — that when it’s a good time,” he said. “The four hours of the day that the players are here — that’s the best part.”
On a typical weekday, practice is the first item on the list, with players arriving early in the morning. During the first practice of the day with the whole coaching staff, game plans and travel schedules are solidified, injuries and personnel are accounted for, and, of course, the players get a tough workout, supplied by Bowen.
After practice, Bowen prepares for upcoming games — watching game reels and perfecting game plans. Practice rolls around again in the afternoon, and Bowen shares his games plans with his players, reports on recruiting efforts and sends his players off for another two-hour practice. While afternoon practice ends at 6:30 p.m. for the team, Bowen and the coaching staff spend the next couple of hours reviewing videos and notes from that practice. A few recruiting phone calls are made in the evening, game plans are once again revised and Bowen leaves the Anderson Family Football Complex late in the evening, well after the sun has set.
Born and raised in Lawrence, Bowen has been a Jayhawk and a football player since birth. Part of a football family dynasty — his father was a high school All-American and his brother played football for Lawrence High and the University — playing football was inevitable. Despite this, Bowen did not settle into the family sport at the very beginning.
“I tried all the sports,” he said. “[Football] was the one that seemed to work for me the best. I tried to play basketball, I tried to play baseball, and the success wasn’t the same. It was pretty evident where my body and my physical skill set was meant to go.”
This skill allowed Bowen to make a name for himself as a player, first in high school and then as a defensive back at the University. Now, as a coach, Bowen brings his own personal experience into his practices.
“I think it helps to understand that there is a part of this that is difficult,” he said. “It’s physically and mentally difficult to go 12 weeks of a college football season. Your body is beat up, you get yourself on these emotional highs and emotional lows with wins and losses during the course of the season.”
Bowen has experienced his fair share of wins and losses at the University. The program’s success has varied over the years, but Bowen remains optimistic, largely because of the team’s improvement when he was a player here.
“When I first got here at the University of Kansas as a player, we weren’t very good,” he said. “We won three games my first year; we had won one the year before. By the time I left, we won nine. So I get the comments that get made on campus. I understood what those comments meant — I heard those same comments in the classroom. I think that’s been helpful to explain to you guys that there is a chance for success. You have to work hard to get it, but we’ve turned it around before, from not being very good to being very good. It can be done.”
Although Bowen coaches 99 dedicated football players every day, his favorite athletes aren’t on the KU team roster. In fact, these athletes haven’t even made it out of elementary school.
Bowen’s two sons, Baylor and Banks, are the youngest of many generations of sports-playing Bowens — 10 and eight years old, respectively. Their father spends most of his free time watching his sons play various sports.
“My life right now seems to be going to youth sports events year-round,” he said. “Both of [my sons] have taken a liking to that kind of world.”
Specifically, the Bowen boys enjoy playing basketball, baseball, and, of course, football. While their father has not had the opportunity to coach them as of yet, he looks forward to the possibility of doing so in the future.
“I kind of wish I could [coach them] at some point in time, but this job situation doesn’t really allow for that,” he said. “But it’s also good to sit back and watch other guys deal with the things that come with coaching.”
Coaching has always been a staple in Bowen’s family life. He met his wife at the University when he was a graduate assistant working on the coaching staff. Bowen has been in the coaching profession for the entirety of their relationship, something he says is a good thing for the two of them.
“This job can be taxing on relationships, what with the time commitment it takes,” he said. “The travel, the recruiting time — it can be hard on a relationship. The first time we ever met, that was what I was doing, that’s where we’ve been the whole time. My boys — that’s the hardest part. When I leave, they ask ‘When am I going to see you again?’ That part’s tough, but they understand. The season is the rough part, and we always say we’re going to make up for it in different ways after the season.”
While Bowen’s job limits some of what his family can do, they make the most of it in the little breaks that he has.
“We try to do as many fun things as we can,” he said. “We like to hit the lake, do a little boating. We like to do some speed golfing, where I hit it, and [the boys] just chase their balls all over the course — it’s like a marathon for them. We’re kind of a little day-trip kind of family. We’ll hit little goofy places around the state and do different things.”
Despite the time constraints that come with the job, Bowen looks forward to the opportunities presented to him through his profession. His love for the game and the community where he grew up motivate him to make a difference with the chance he’s been given.
“Any time you get to represent the University of Kansas, and you get to wear that jersey and helmet that say KU on it, there’s a special privilege that comes with that,” he said, recalling his favorite part of playing and coaching football. “I think there’s a lot of pride in that.”
— Edited by Emily Brown
Photos by: George Mullinix/KANSAN