Gower will be inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in Dalton on Saturday, following nearly three decades of coaching track and field and cross country in Cobb County.
Gower joins an induction class that also includes football coaches Buck Godfrey, T. McFerrin and Rodney Walker, girls basketball coach Johnny Farmer and boys basketball coach Jimmy Hires.
“I’m very humbled by this honor,” the 63-year-old Gower said. “I had hoped this would happen sometime along the line, and I’m very appreciative and proud that I was selected for this opportunity.”
Gower coached for 26 years in Georgia. He spent 25 years as a track and field coach and 22 as a cross country coach.
He was one of the first track and field coaches at Walton when the school opened its doors in 1975.
Gower spent 10 years at Walton, winning seven state cross country titles — four boys, three girls — before he was hired to coach the women’s track and field team at Auburn in 1986. After three years on the college level, Gower returned to high school to coach at North Cobb before ending his career in 2003 as the track and field coach at McEachern, where he won two girls track and field state championships and one boys title.
In all, Gower spent 13 years at McEachern.
“It was a good run,” he said.
Gower’s time in Cobb County also led to three state runner-up finishes, 31 region titles and 10 county track championships and 10 county cross country titles. He was named the Atlanta Track Club coach of the year seven times, and he earned Georgia Athletic Coaches Association cross country coach of the year honors.
“All of it was special,” Gower said. “Having the opportunity to work with kids and watch them grow and compete was great. Our teams were well-known across the state because of our success, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to work at such good high schools with some wonderful people and all-around good kids.”
After competing for his father at McEachern, Travis Gower followed in his father’s footsteps as the head cross country and track and field coach at Walton. He learned first-hand from his father what it was like to be coach.
“He’s an absolute inspiration and the whole reason I got into running, and why I’m a coach,” Travis Gower said. “I grew up around cross country and track and field. It’s a passion of mine, and he got me started.
“To be able to transfer his passion into the sport and be successful in it was his strength. He’s a student of the game and knows about every event and can coach it at a high level. He transfers that passion into his athletes and they stay committed to the sport because of what he instilled in them.
“I’m incredibly proud of him. He’s the best coach I’ve had and I still call him for advice. To see him get (inducted) will be incredible. I’m proud to follow in his footsteps.”
An inductee into the Georgia Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame, Lee Gower is especially excited to receive Saturday’s honor because of what it signifies on a statewide basis.
The 2014 class is the 15th for the hall of fame. Among past inductees with Cobb County ties are Billy Peek (2013), Charlie Hood (2010), Roscoe Googe (2010), Weyman Sellers (2010), Bud Theodocion (2006) and Brian Hage (2005).
“This is an award across all sports in the state,” Gower said. “It’s not sport-specific and that’s what makes it special. It’s from people from all different coaching disciplines, and I really appreciate that.”