By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD
You may have seen him on Facebook, wearing a yellow wig and singing a song in the middle of a parking lot. Or doing cartwheels – not just one, but four or five in a row – in the middle of the football field. And after every song or gymnastics performance you’ll hear him yell, “Get You Some!”
The forever-young superintendent of Calvary Baptist Academy seems to be at every one of the school’s activities, whether they are taking place on the Linwood Avenue campus or miles away from Shreveport.
It’s a mystery where Chad McDowell – who will turn 50 on “tax day” – gets all of his energy. One thing is for sure: his heart is with the Cavaliers.
In Part I of this “Lunch with Harriet” installment, see how McDowell’s success as a basketball coach led to his current leadership position at Calvary Baptist.
Everything seemed to be going according to plan. At the age of 23, Chad McDowell was getting his chance to coach basketball.
Not long after graduating from LSUS, he was back at his alma mater as an assistant coach for the Southwood girls’ basketball team.
“I’m one year out of school and an assistant coach for living legend Steve McDowell (no relation),” he recalls during our recent lunch at Ferrier’s Rollin’ in the Dough. “We’ve just gone into Ewing Coliseum at ULM and won the state championship. And you know we’re gonna win three more.”
That was back in 1997, which was Alana Beard’s freshman year. The future WNBA All-Star and member of the 2016 WNBA Championship team would lead the Lady Cowboys to the next three state titles.
Four days after winning that first championship, however, Chad McDowell made a decision.
“I realized that at this season of life I’m just not cut out to coach girls’ basketball,” he remembers.
So, at age 24, McDowell moved back home to his parents’ house in Southern Hills.
“It’s so interesting how along the way different things happen,” he says.
Yes, it is.
McDowell was mowing the grass one afternoon when his mom and dad came outside to tell him that somebody had called to say the boys’ basketball coaching position just came open at Byrd High School. Turns out legendary coach Delbert Clinton was leaving the Yellow Jackets to take the job at UL-Lafayette.
“Alan Carter, who was the head football coach and athletic director at Byrd, called and asked if I’d be interested in applying for the job,” says McDowell.
After interviewing with Carter and Byrd principal Lynn Fitzgerald, McDowell was offered the job.
“I was going with (future wife) Jennifer, who graduated from Byrd,” he says. “And her parents were the biggest Byrd fans. They bled purple and gold. It was the biggest thing for them ever that I got offered the position.”
There was only one problem, however.
“I was scared to death,” explains McDowell. “I was 24. Nobody wants to follow Delbert Clinton. So I left a voicemail for Alan Carter declining the job.”
Soon after that, McDowell was on a plane heading to Disney World with Jennifer and her parents – who were so mad at him for turning down the job.
“Nobody was talking to me,” he recalls.
While McDowell was flying to Disney World in silence, his father was on a plane heading back to Shreveport from Denver when a gentleman asked if he could sit next to him. The two started talking and Chad’s father told the story of his son being offered a coaching job at a big high school in Shreveport.
The guy sitting next to McDowell’s father was Tim Floyd, the college and NBA coach – who took over for Phil Jackson in Chicago and coached the Bulls for four years.
“He took out his business card, turned it over and wrote on the back: ‘Chad, if they offer you the job, take it. Tim Floyd,’” says McDowell. “I still have that card in my office.”
With tears in his eyes, McDowell called Carter and told him he felt like he had made the worst decision.
“He used his experience about declining a job one time that he wished he hadn’t,” McDowell says of his phone call with Carter, who hadn’t told Fitzgerald that he had turned down the job. “He said he was going to let me enjoy my vacation then he was going to ask what my concerns were. He said, ‘Let’s talk them out.’”
Needless to say, McDowell changed his mind and took the job at Byrd, where he coached the boys’ team for four years. He returned to Southwood – where he had played football, baseball, and basketball – to coach the boys’ basketball team (including a trip to the state championship game).
Two years later, he got a call from LSUS Athletic Director Doug Robinson saying the university was going to reinstate the basketball program and he wanted McDowell to coach the men’s team – which meant another chance to coach at a school where he had played basketball.
In the nine years that McDowell coached the LSUS men’s basketball team, the Pilots won seven straight conference tournament titles and made eight straight national tournament (NAIA) appearances.
In addition to being named GCAC Coach of the Year three times, McDowell won the 2011 NAIA Coach of Character award – which recognizes a coach who demonstrates methods of teaching character through sport and instills a tradition of athletic and community excellence.
McDowell gave up coaching to take over as LSUS athletic director when Robinson stepped down in 2012. When he became AD, McDowell began working on his master’s degree in educational leadership. That was also the time that his father was diagnosed with cancer.
“The day my father was diagnosed with cancer, he told me two things,” recalls McDowell. “Number one, finish that master’s degree. And number two, take care of your momma.
‘And with that second one, you’ve got your hands full with that one.’”
McDowell is still taking care of his momma.
And when he had finished his master’s degree, he got a call asking if he’d be interested in taking over as superintendent at Calvary Baptist Academy.
“I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that – when I accepted the position at Calvary in the spring of 2016,” McDowell says with a laugh.
Contact Harriet at email@example.com
In Part II, you’ll find out just what he was thinking and what he has done at Calvary in the last six-plus years. And you’ll learn the origin of “Get You Some!”