Lawrence lives out passion on the field, on the sideline
By Lance Catchings
Junior Lakota Lawrence loves playing the game of football. To hear him talk of his experience as a Liberty Hill Panther would make anyone want to run out and buy a pair of cleats.
“I started playing football in third grade and I have played every year since,” Lawrence said.
“I made varsity as a sophomore for Liberty Hill and last year was my first year starting. With Coach Walker coming in it was the best experience I ever could have had in football and my most memorable year by far. I have always been a lineman throughout my football career. Last year I started at quick tackle and that was fun for me. It was not a lot of thinking just a lot of go, go, go. It was a great experience.”
It was these experiences on the field that led him to want to give back to his community. During the summer months Lawrence volunteers as a 7-on-7 coach for the Liberty Hill Junior High School teams.
“In seventh grade, we played 7-on-7 and I played on the team because I was a tight end,” he said.
“Freshman year I asked Shawn Lapuszynski, my friends dad, if I could help coach 7-on-7. I told him it was what I wanted to do when I grow up and that I want to coach football. It is what I want to do deep in my heart. I helped the first year as a freshman in 2016 with the seventh grade team. The year after that I coached the fifth grade and the following year I coached seventh grade again.”
Lawrence loves coaching, but believes the students are what make it all worthwhile.
“I absolutely love the kids and to me that is what makes football, football,” he said.
“The coaches can only do so much, but the kids and their efforts and abilities is what makes the program great. Good coaching makes good programs. Good coaching of great kids makes great programs and Liberty Hill is a great program.”
7-on-7 is a passing oriented game in which players must pass or run the football to gain yardage. It usually consists of a quarterback and multiple backs and receivers going out for passes to gain yardage. With Liberty Hill as a very run oriented offense during the actual football season can make 7-on-7 a different experience for many of the kids.
“Coaching 7-on-7 is not without its challenges,” he said.
“We have a lot of great kids but we also have some who will make excuses because we run the Slot-T. With the offense we normally run there is a learning curve, and it is even like that in the high school level. 7-on-7 is just another avenue for us to compete and that’s what is important. It does not matter if we do not pass the football at all. All that matters is that we are competing.”
Lawrence uses his own experiences from his coaches at LHHS to influence his coaching style.
“I take a lot of osmosis from coach Walker because I think he is the greatest coach in the state of Texas,” he said.
“He has put this program in a position to go over the top like it was years ago. When he came in it changed a lot of things and it has been a great experience. Liberty Hill has always had great coaches that cared about the kids and that is something that makes me want to coach. Helping children and young adults through that avenue is great. I have seen it do so much for other people and myself included.”
Shawn Lapuszynski, who originally helped Lawrence get into coaching 7-on-7, said he is a rare find and one of the hardest workers he has ever seen.
“Lakota is a good example of a kid that works his tail off and still has time to give back to our youth,” Lapuszynski said.
“When we were short on seventh grade coaches he did not hesitate to step up. He has even run whole practices when the head coach isn’t able to make it. You don’t see this much commitment and clear calling in teenagers very often.”
Lawrence and the Liberty Hill seventh grade 7-on-7 team practice once a week for an hour and a half. His enthusiasm as a coach is sure to be ingrained in the next batch of Liberty Hill Panthers headed down the pipeline.