Black shorts, rain or shine
Lowell coaching mystique starts with wearing a black pair in any weather
Lowell coaching mystique starts with donning shorts in any weather, columnist Mike Hutton writes.
At Lowell, coaches get a pair of black shorts before the season starts.
There are other small giveaways, but that’s the most important item.
What does it mean to be a Red Devil?
It means the head coach is expected to wear shorts on the sidelines in rain, snow, sleet or sunny weather.
It’s a Red Devil trademark with a few exceptions. The gift is a hint for the other coaches.
“If I walk out in pants, all my guys are like, ‘What is going on?’ ” Lowell coach Keith
The beauty of high school football? It isn’t college or professional, where you have to dress appropriately if you’re the coach.
That means long pants.
The rules for sideline attire in high school change when the wind starts howling and temperatures hit freezing.
Except if you’re a Red Devil, where there’s a deep meaning to seeing Kilmer’s bare white legs in mid-November.
OK, not really.
The shorts-wearing history doesn’t have much nuance.
Former Lowell coach Kirk Kennedy, who started the tradition, was simply more comfortable wearing shorts.
He has one funny story about the year he didn’t wear shorts.
When Kennedy started teaching, he wore a shirt and tie to school.
On Friday, he would go home before the football game and put on his shorts.
One year, though, a buddy of his stopped by school to chat. The two talked for a while. Kennedy lost track of time. When the conversation finished, it was already time for the pregame.
He didn’t have time to go back and change.
The Red Devils won that night, so Kennedy, who played football at Louisville, went with what Kilmer called his “Howard Schnellenberger look” for the rest of the season.
He was superstitious, though, so Kennedy ditched it the next year.
He hated it.
Kilmer recalls wearing long pants only three times in 19 years as an assistant and head coach.
They were a semistate game against Fort Wayne Dwenger in 2008, the New Prairie Regional game in 2014 and last year’s New Prairie Regional game.
Kilmer doesn’t mind the cold, “but if the wind is howling, I’m a softie. Sometimes, you gotta be smart.”
Kennedy said he does not recall wearing long pants on the sidelines after his Schnellen- berger season. He wore silver, purple and white shorts at Bloomington South and navy blue and silver shorts at Franklin County.
Kennedy coached at Lowell from 1991 through 2009.
He knows he had long pants on during warmups for a game against Concord on Nov. 10, 2006 in Lowell.
It was raining sideways that night and the wind was blowing 22 mph, according to Weather Underground. Lowell was hit with nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain.
Kennedy got a reprieve.
They moved the game to the next day, and he wore shorts.
In the 2008 semistate game against Fort Wayne Dwenger on Nov. 22, temperatures hovered between 19 and 25 degrees, according to Weather Underground.
Kennedy wore shorts.
He just couldn’t coach any other way.
“It was an expectation,” he said. “Pregame can be a little cold but once the adrenaline kicks in, you don’t feel anything.”
What’s ironic about the fashion statement is Kennedy started a tradition where the players wore a shirt and tie to school on Fridays.
That was before Lowell was good.
Kennedy did it because everyone “used to make fun of us because we were so bad. That was a way to turn a negative into a positive. Everybody liked it.”
Kennedy wishes there were some deep meaning to why he decided to turn Lowell football into a shorts-wearing school.
But there is none except that he was “too lazy to wear anything but shorts.”
There are no plans to change the routine because tradition means everything at Lowell and toughness is its virtue.
And Kilmer is just like Kennedy.
It’s just easier, even if frostbite lurks.
Lowell Kilmer stands on the sidelines in a game against Fort Wayne Dwenger on Nov. 17, 2017.