Brenda Owens isn’t used to losing, and she doesn’t like it one bit that her ninth grade girls basketball team at Forest Meadow Junior High won only a few games this season. So after she watched her girls crush Westwood a few weeks ago, there was only one logical way for her to celebrate.
“I got on the P.A. system at school the next day and sang a victory song,” says the outgoing Owens. “I mix in a little rap and rhyme, and the kids really enjoy it. At least, I enjoy it, anyway.”
Although the rapping has been rare this season, coaching has been a major part of Owens’ life since 1975, when she started at Long Junior High. The Roswell, N.M., native transferred to Forest Meadow nearly 12 years ago and has been a frenetic fixture on the sideline ever since.
“I knew back in junior high that coaching was what I wanted to do,” Owens says. “And I always knew that the junior high level is where I wanted to be.
“At this age, the kids are really trying to find themselves, and I really try to prepare them for what’s ahead in high school and in life.”
Owens grew up with nine brothers and sisters in Eastern New Mexico and graduated from Roswell High School. While in high school she played volleyball, basketball, and track, specializing in the 440. “I didn’t break any records, but I certainly wasn’t a slug either,” she says before breaking into her trademark laugh.
She attended Eastern New Mexico University, got married, and headed to Dallas after her graduation. Daughter Charlia, 15, is a freshman at Apollo Junior High, where she plays volleyball, club soccer, and is a cheerleader.
Owens has lived in Lake Highlands for 18 years and has enjoyed every minute of it.
“There’s something very special about this area and the schools in it,” she says. “Maybe it’s the people, but something about it reminds me of where I grew up, with more things to do.”
With five physical education classes a day, and a yearly agenda that includes coaching freshman volleyball, basketball, and the upcoming track season, there’s not a whole lot of time for Owens to spend on her favorite pastimes: reading western novels, watching “The Cosby Show” and listening to jazz music. Her daughter, however, is another story.
“We have a great time together,” Owens says. “I don’t put too much pressure on her, but if she wants advice on sports or anything else, she knows where to come.”
Owens, who is called “crazy” (in a good way) by some of her fellow teachers, is not one to shy away from any subject. One of these is gender-equity and preferential treatment for boys.
“Sports for girls have come a long way since I was a kid,” she says. “But the players still don’t get the recognition they deserve. What they are doing is important, and it’s a shame that girls’ athletics aren’t attended by more people on the junior-high and high-school levels.”
In the Owens’ personality mix is an unparalleled sense of humor. She says, “My daughter’s just like me. She stands out like a neon light. You can spot her anywhere.”
Owens has needed a sparkling sense of humor to battle health problems for the past six years. A pituitary tumor requires constant monitoring, and her athletic career required her to undergo reconstructive foot surgery years ago.
And, like any hardworking, competitive coach, her stomach gets tied in knots after a few too many close losses. She quit smoking this year and hopes to slim down in 1993 with a steady walking and aerobics program.
Coaching has its bright side and its down side as well for Owens. She mentions the rewards of building a team and seeing the players improve over the course of a season.
On the negative side is the moderate pay and dealing with parents who complain about their kids’ lack of playing time. Still, she wouldn’t dream of doing anything else, anywhere else.
“I am very competitive,” Owens says. “The one phrase that I won’t let a player get away with is, ‘I can’t.’”
Owens adds, “Sometimes I’ll get out of my bed in the middle of the night with a new idea or a new play. Coaching is my life, and I can’t imagine doing anything more rewarding than helping girls develop confidence in themselves.”