The Blindside meets Friday Night Lights in Keanon Lowe’s Hometown Victory when an NFL coach returns home after losing a friend to opioids to coach a team of struggling high school kids on a 23-game losing streak.
Keanon Lowe was working as an offensive analyst for the San Francisco 49ers when his childhood friend and former high school teammate suddenly died from an opioid overdose. Keanon dropped everything–including the plum NFL job he had been working towards since childhood–leading him to a position as football coach at a struggling high school back in his hometown. At the time, Parkrose High School was in the middle of a 23-game losing streak–they were the ultimate underdogs.
In many ways, the road to Parkrose was paved by Keanon’s life-defining experiences–from a childhood spent dodging racist bullies and finding the support and mentorship he craved on the football team, to an NFL season where he worked closely with Colin Kaepernick as he evolved his sideline protest. Keanon was drawn to the young men on the Parkrose team, and to the school itself. After two years, he pushed them to become conference champions, mentoring countless players along the way.
But still, there was that nagging sense that his calling wasn’t meant to stop there. He was at that school for a reason. In May 2019, he got his answer when a 19-year-old student entered a Parkrose classroom with a trench coat and shotgun. Keanon disarmed him and pulled the boy into a hug, telling him he cared. In the boy, Keanon saw himself, and the young men he grew up with or mentored along the way–and weren’t so many of them just looking for acceptance, for comfort, for love?
With the heart of favorite football classics–The Blindside, Friday Night Lights, Remember the Titans–Keanon’s journey at Parkrose is the true account of a life spent striving forward, even when faced with the unimaginable. Hometown Victory is a story about gratitude, service, and most of all, hope.
Point of view:
I grabbed this book as part of a challenge to read/listen to a book by an athlete.
CW as the book & my review will discuss these topics:
poverty, racism, violence, fatal drug overdose, alcoholism, attempted suicide by a youth
This memoir by Keanon Lowe mostly covers a two-year span of his career as a high school football coach for one of the most struggling teams in Oregon during the 2018 & 2019 seasons. Mixing in – sometimes at odd moments – his family life growing up and his own personal high school and college ball career. While I found it to be overly repetitive and filled with too many “cat poster” motivational phrases, I did appreciate his ability to connect with his players beyond just football. His own experiences with financial and family strife growing up helped him empathize with the often difficult backgrounds of Parkrose students.
While their story may not be quite the fairy tale the blurb makes it out to be (sorry, but this is neither Blindside nor Friday Night Lights in terms of gripping drama or Cinderella-esque game stats) – it is an enjoyable look at how a team and individual student’s lives can be positively impacted by caring adults. I appreciated how Lowe shared that he was not in this alone and that many other people held his respect and admiration for all that he achieved. They all worked together to help students find motivation when their personal lives and team are constantly bombarded by poverty, lack of support, and racism.
I didn’t realize when I chose this that Lowe is the school security guard who stopped a student from killing himself by embracing them in a hug. This makes up a small but powerful part of the book toward the end and exemplifies the unwavering love and dedication he has for youth – whether they are on his team or not.
I enjoyed Landon Woodson’s narration. I’d love to listen to more by him.
About the author:
You can connect with Keanon Lowe here:
About the narrator:
You can connect with Landon Woodson here: