Not every high school athlete gets to play for their dad, but this year both Clinton’s JR Wauford ad Fulton’s Patrick Lower Jr. get to see their father on the sidelines.
Jon Wauford has been head coach of the River Kings for five years now. His son, JR, was on the roster as a freshman in 2018, but has played a large roll so far in the youthful River Kings’ 2019 season.
One of the biggest benefits according to the pair is the increased amount of contact they have with each other. Before, Coach Wauford would be at practice until late into the night while JR was either at home or doing other activities.
“It’s great,” Jon Wauford said. “I get to see him every day. Before I had him on my field I wouldn’t see him until seven or eight at night. On a personal level it’s wonderful. I get to se ehim every day. It’s increased my enjoyment of my job 100 percent.”
“I get to go to practice and I get to see my dad,” JR said. “That makes it better than it would be without him.”
When they’re on the gridiron, JR says he turns from his son into his player.
“He’s a coach,” JR said. “I think he treats me as much of a player as anyone else.”
It also can mean practice comes back to the home with them.
This is nothing new for JR, who has seen his dad be a coach in some capacity for most of his life. The family is very sports oriented, so talking football at home is just normal.
“If we have a bad practice or a bad game, he’ll come home and not be dad as much as usual. It’s always been like that,” JR said. “He’s coached a ton of sports I’ve played. Sports is definitely just a big part of what we do at home.”
It’s part of what he likes about having his dad as his coach, though. He says it’s something that he’s definitely going to remember down the line.
“I’m always with him after school and after everything,” JR said. “I get to see what he’s like and I think it will definitely be something I remember. I learn a lot from him.”
Patrick Lower has led the Steamers for over a decade. His son, Patrick Lower Jr., serves as the backup quarterback for the Fulton Steamer squad.
But Patrick Lower Jr. has been around the Fulton football team for a long time before he put on the black and red.
“It’s almost not that big of a deal because he’s been around forever, as a ball boy or at practices or at halftimes in locker rooms,” Coach Patrick Lower said. “It’s just different now that he has a helmet and pads on.”
That didn’t mean he looked forward to it any less.
“Definitely [was excited about it],” Patrick Lower Jr. said. “Being a ball boy, I started in like fourth grade, and I was always waiting to be on the varsity team, warm up on Friday nights and just be a part of the whole thing.”
He gets to have a special relationship with his father, even in games. He serves as the backup quarterback for the Steamers, meaning he knows the calls inside and out.
“It’s pretty cool,” Lower Jr. said. “I wear the quarterback wristband on the sideline so every play he calls I get to hear and tell on the sideline.”
It also makes things run smoothly between the two. When Lower Jr. is running the scout plays, he knows exactly what his father needs him to do.
“The nice thing about having him out there, he knows what I’m talking about and what I want the scout team to do and it all runs very smooth,” Lower said.
The Lowers also bring football home off the field, but again, it’s something they don’t mind. In fact, just like JR Wauford, it’s one of Patrick Lower Jr.’s favorite parts about having his father as his head coach.
“It goes home a lot. We talk about it a lot all through the week and leading up to Friday,” Lower said. “I’ve always loved football so it’s fun to talk about it with someone who knows so much about the game.”