Clowning Around

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2004

Cindy Lowe isn’t afraid to have fun.

As McKenzie School’s head girls basketball coach and softball coach, Lowe has had the opportunity to express her love for sports all while having fun and teaching her players and students valuable lessons.

Lowe’s co-workers can attest for her playful antics as will her students, who get the opportunity every now and then to kick back and have some fun of their own.

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&uot;There is a place and a time to have fun,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;I’ll give my students a little slack in the classroom because you can’t study all the time, you’ve got to relax a while, but you still have to have discipline. You still have to have that desire to learn and make something of yourself, while having a good time. I enjoy having a good time and playing, but I believe in hard work too. You can’t play your life away.&uot;

Growing Up

Lowe, 45, was born in Tuscaloosa and raised in Panama City, Fla. She said growing up in Florida was a good experience.

&uot;It was really nice,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;Everybody from the neighborhood was in our yard all the time playing football, baseball, basketball and climbing trees. It was a big neighborhood thing. We played hopscotch in the road. It was wonderful. We had friends all the time.&uot;

Lowe’s love for sports started at an early age. Although she never played organized sports until she was a teenager, she played backyard sports with her three younger brothers, Stewart, Harold and Mark Taylor

&uot;It seemed to be what our neighborhood lived for,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;Whose yard could we get to first to play sports.&uot;

While enrolled in school in Florida, Lowe attended Cherry Street Elementary School. She said it was an interesting time in history to be in school.

&uot;They integrated when I was in the fifth grade,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;It was pretty neat. Soon we had different children that we’d never seen before and we got to have classes in barracks. They brought in these little houses and called them barracks because of integration and an influx of students. We were overwhelmed with students. We went from a small school to a big school overnight.&uot;

Lowe’s family moved to McKenzie in 1970 following her fifth grade. She said moving from a highly residential community to the country was a big change.

&uot;It was a culture shock,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;There are no neighborhoods and no children to play with. You’re in the country. You had friends at school, but you didn’t have friends to come over and play because your friends lived out of town.&uot;

Although McKenzie School was much smaller than Cherry Street, Lowe said there wasn’t much difference due to the integration.

&uot;McKenzie was a lot like Cherry Street because they had just started to integrate,&uot; Lowe said.

High School Years

There weren’t many organized sports to choose from when Lowe was growing up. In fact, softball was the only sport for girls at the time.

&uot;Softball was it,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;We played in Georgiana at South Butler Academy. I also played there for several years and played in Greenville.&uot;

Lowe began playing women’s softball when she was 15-years old for the McKenzie Bank-sponsored team. She said just being on the softball diamond appeased her.

&uot;I loved to play,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;It didn’t matter with who or against who. I just enjoyed playing, win or lose. As long as you play hard it’s fun.&uot;

Since there were no high school sports offered for girls when Lowe attended McKenzie, she resorted to being a cheerleader to stay active. She was on the squad her freshman through senior years.

&uot;I liked the physical part of it, trying to do the pyramids and working hard to do things right,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;We cheered for football and basketball. Cheerleading was the only sport I could be involved in. I would have loved to play football. I just love sports.&uot;

Lowe said cheerleading was special to her because she had the opportunity to cheer for two of her three brothers.

&uot;Stewart started on the line in the eighth grade because it was one of those slow years,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;He could make a tackle running halfway across the field. He was amazing. Harold was a receiver and made several good receptions for touchdowns.&uot;

Lowe takes the credit for her younger brothers’ success on the gridiron.

&uot;I was their quarterback when we were younger,&uot; Lowe said.

Besides cheering, Lowe also worked in the tobacco fields throughout high school. Although it was hot, back-breaking work, she enjoyed it.

&uot;It was a lot of physical labor, but I like physical stuff,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;I enjoyed it. I don’t mind sweating and working hard. The nicotine on the tobacco would stain you up and most people didn’t like that, but it didn’t bother me. I liked working in the barn. I got to where I could rack, which is taking the sticks of tobacco to the top of the barn and racking them up.&uot;

Even though Lowe was working, she always made time for sports.

&uot;Of course, your friends were there working with you and we played during down times,&uot; Lowe said.

As for the classroom, Lowe knew her boundaries. She enjoyed pulling a good practical joke, but knew when it was time to work.

&uot;I did pretty good, but could have done better,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;I was the class clown, I played, but I knew when I got home I had to have my homework done. I had to make the grades. Failing or making C’s of D’s was not allowed. I had a good time in school.&uot;

Lowe graduated from McKenzie in 1977 third in her class.

College Bound

Following high school, Lowe attended Lurleen B. Wallace Community College in Andalusia on an academic scholarship.

While in junior college, Lowe continued her strong work ethic by joining a work/study program. She spent her free time working in the college’s snack bar.

&uot;We made hamburgers, fries, hotdogs, grilled cheese, stuff like that,&uot; Lowe said.

In 1979, Lowe graduated from LBWCC with an associate’s of arts.

Lowe began working for South Butler Parts following graduation. She worked there for a year before enrolling in Auburn University Montgomery.

&uot;We looked up parts and stuff like that,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;There were no computers then, so you had to physically look up and match what customers wanted or needed.&uot;

During the year between colleges, Lowe said she decided she wanted to pursue a career in teaching.

&uot;A couple of my cousins were teachers and they said it wasn’t that bad, so I decided I would try it,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;If I could play I did it, that’s why I chose P.E. because I like to play.&uot;

Women’s athletics were also not offered during the time Lowe was enrolled at AUM, so she continued to work at South Butler Parts. During that time she met Randy Lowe, who worked across the street at Garner’s Drug Store. The two married a year and a half later.

Throughout college, Lowe’s love for sports continued and she continued to play women’s softball.

Lowe graduated from AUM in 1983 with a double major in math and physical education.

Time to Work

It didn’t take any time for Lowe to land a job following graduation. The Butler County School Board of Education hired her almost instantly.

&uot;I feel fortunate, but I think I was lucky in that my major has helped me,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;I’ve taught math and P.E. for 20 years and I feel like if I hadn’t of had the double major I probably wouldn’t have got my foot in the door. It’s what they needed at the time and that’s what I’ve taught ever since.&uot;

During her first year teaching, Lowe taught math half a day at Georgiana and taught elementary P.E. at McKenzie the other half a day. The following year she transferred to Greenville Middle School, where she taught math and P.E. before heading back to Georgiana the next year where she served as a math and P.E. teacher for six years.

During her time at Georgiana, Lowe began her coaching career. She first served as an assistant girls basketball and softball coach. She later worked as head girls basketball coach for two seasons.

&uot;It was hard to get accustomed to being a coach,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;I think them having so many coaches made it harder. They didn’t have a set plan and the girls were confused of what was expected of them.&uot;

In 1992, Lowe was hired to start a girls basketball program at McKenzie School.

&uot;They asked me to come to start a girls basketball program,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;They had no program. They had uniforms ordered and expected me to start the program.&uot;

But starting a program at McKenzie wasn’t an easy task for Lowe.

&uot;It was very hard because the girls had not a clue about anything,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;They didn’t know the rules and had no skills. The discipline and wanting to practice was no problem. They wanted to come. Trying to teach them everything in one year was very hard.&uot;

Lowe said the players on the Lady Tigers’ first team worked hard the first year the program was introduced, but winning wasn’t the focus of the team.

&uot;We were excited when we scored more points than we did the game before,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;That was our goal, to score more than we did the game before and learn as we go.&uot;

The Lady Tigers had their best season ever last year when they advanced to the second round of the Alabama High School Association’s Class 1A playoffs.

&uot;That was pretty amazing,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;We were in a tough region with Brantley, J.F Shields and Pleasant Home. To us, we did good.&uot;

Although McKenzie’s girls sports program has seen its ups and downs during Lowe’s 12-year tenure, her ability to make light of every situation and keep a positive attitude has helped keep it growing. She said that attitude is the lasting impression she wants to leave with her players and students.

&uot;I want them to know that attitude counts,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;If you work hard and have the right attitude you can accomplish something. You’ll have fun even though you lose if you’re working hard at winning. You should try to do your best in everything you do.&uot;

As for Lowe’s future at McKenzie, she said she’ll continue to have a good time, while getting to know her students and helping lead them on the right paths in life.

&uot;It’s been good,&uot; Lowe said. &uot;You know everybody and you certainly know them before they graduate. Being an elementary P.E. teacher I get them in the second and third grade and I have them through the twelfth grade some way or another. It’s nice to know everybody and what they are capable of doing and their strengths and weaknesses in sports or in the classroom.&uot;