OLNEY, Md. (WDVM) – After Sherwood’s final game of a unique 2020-21 football season, a 29-0 win over Paint Branch, 73-year-old head coach Tom Crowell announced to his team that he was retiring.
Just days after his final victory, standing in his basement, with walls plastered with memories from more than 50 years of coaching football and basketball in Montgomery County, Crowell traced his days as a middle school football player to his recent season with the Warriors.
‘These big frames here were when I went back to Springbrook and coached basketball,” Crowell said, pointing out the fact that his Springbrook boys basketball teams were the only Maryland 4A basketball team to win three-straight state championships.
In addition to his three basketball titles, as a football assistant, Crowell won 9 WCAC championships with Good Counsel and St. John’s College High School and five state championships at Sherwood and Springbrook. Many of Crowell’s years were spent as an offensive line coach.
“What I’ll really miss the most is the players and the coaches that you work with and the relationships you made with other coaches,” Crowell told WDVM. “That’s what’s really going to be hard.”
Crowell’s last season didn’t feature a state championship, but in the middle of a pandemic, it was one of his most impressive. Sherwood faced a difficult schedule of Quince Orchard, Damascus and Paint Branch. They hung tough with the Cougars in a one quarter scrimmage that didn’t count against their record and smashed Damascus 31-0, before shutting out Paint Branch as well.
“I’ve learned a lot from coach Crowell,” Sherwood senior wide receiver Jalen Clyatt said. “He taught me to never give up, keep pushing, he also told me that I’m capable of anything I just gotta put my mind to it and put the work in. He proved that to me this year.”
Crowell said it wasn’t a hard decision to coach this season, even during a pandemic.
“I made a commitment to the school that when I took this job for the second time around that I would complete three years no matter what,” Crowell said. “I was going to make sure that I saw these seniors through their senior year. I never gave it a second thought.”
Sherwood’s 2020-21 football team relished the opportunity to play for such a storied local coach.
“Coach Crowell, he has more rings than any other coach in the county,” Sherwood senior quarterback Sean Yamada said. “We really clicked. He yelled at me a bunch but it paid off.”
Crowell said that he would always make an effort to check in with a player after practice if he yelled at them, a habit he increased the later into his career that he reached.
“The one thing I want them to know and I think they do is I was a straight shooter with them,” Crowell said. “I always told them the truth and I always had their back. They knew I loved them. Deep down they knew that.”
Crowell has coached a number of great players over the years, recently he coached current NFL wide receiver Stefon Diggs and cornerback Kendall Fuller at Good Counsel and University of Maryland wide receiver Rakim Jarrett at St. John’s.
He also developed a friendship with the late-Washington Redskins offensive-line coach Joe Bugel and coached former Maryland men’s basketball head coach Lefty Driesell’s son Chuck Driesell at Springbrook. Crowell spent many years of his career coaching under all-time great Bob Milloy at Good Counsel, Springbrook and Sherwood.
Despite all of the great players and coaches that have made an influence on Crowell, he gives major credit to his wife and the rest of his family.
“The most important people, you better have a great coach’s wife because without a coach’s wife you can’t get it done,” Crowell said. “My wife and my kids were all in on everything I did and coached.”
After 50-years of hard work and too many championships to count, Crowell will finally have some well deserved free time. He says in retirement, he’ll continue running his paint company, still keep up with local football and attend games and will offer up coaching advice for local coaches that request it.
“To be the head coach again, that’s a young man’s gig,” Crowell said.