New Coach On The Block


Graphic by Kayla Le.

Charlotte Whalen, Staffer

This year, schools all across the country are having issues with staffing, and LASA is no exception, leading to an influx of new teachers this year including Derrick Lewis. As a former National Football League (NFL) player, he received an offer earlier this year to serve as the team’s head coach and athletic coordinator and accepted the position at the  beginning of the semester.

 Lewis didn’t start playing football until he was a junior in college, unlike many other NFL players, but he soon developed a love for the sport. By the time he graduated college, he had over 50 professional football offers from all over the country eventually leading to his draft into the NFL in 2002. He started his professional football career with the New Orleans Saints, later going on to play with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Houston Texans. Lewis also played for the Austin Wranglers, a team a part of the Arena Football League that plays indoors. He has chosen to continue his career by teaching football at LASA, hoping to be challenged and make the team respectable in the district.

“I chose LASA of all of them because I made a reputation of being a developmental coach,” Lewis said. “I take kids that otherwise wouldn’t have gone to college for football and after a year or two are training them for that they end up on college radars, and they end up going to college to play football. And so I thought that this would be the best place for me to display that skill set to take a team that no one really thinks much of and develop and make them into a respectable, decent team.”

Although his professional football career was successful, exemplified by him breaking records with the Austin Wranglers, Lewis chose to coach high school football instead of coaching for NFL or college football. Lewis said he made the choice in order to spend more time with his family.

“Honestly, [with] the hours required to be a college coach and the size of my family, it’d be impossible to satisfy the workload and spend time with my kids,” Lewis said. “And in high school, there’s enough time that I can go home and play with my babies.”

In addition to his many duties as the head football coach, Lewis also serves as LASA’s athletic coordinator. Lewis said he plans on using this position to strengthen all of LASA’s athletic teams, not just football.

“My job is just to control the program and make sure that all teams and all coaches have everything they need to compete to have success in the sport, to bring in outside sources to help the coaches and players and just to build the program up,” Lewis said. “I want it to get to the point where when you’re competing against a LASA team, you know that it’s going to be a competitive match, and we won’t be a doormat.” 

According to sophomore football player Juyeop Lee, Lewis has been living up to his reputation, and everyone is improving with his guidance. Lee hopes that LASA can make a name for themselves in football, and that Lewis can help them do just that.

“He’s really charismatic, and he’s got a lot of good leadership qualities,” Lee said. “The mindset around our team and our practices have changed a lot to really want to get better everyday and improve.” 

The coaching strategy that Lewis uses helps each player learn and develop skills catered to them, according to Freshman football player Elijah Moon. Moon believes that Lewis will turn their team into the strongest it’s been.

“I really like Coach Lewis; he’s probably one of my favorite coaches I’ve had,” Moon said. “He’s really good at teaching and you can tell that he really knows a lot about what he’s doing and is able to help our team.” 

Lewis says he approaches coaching in a way that helps each player hone in on their individual strengths. Lewis attempts to learn each player’s preferences in order to teach them in a way they understand.

“I make it relevant to whatever it is they’re good at,” Lewis said. “If they are basketball players, I apply the drills or teach the drill in such a way that they can receive it in their own understanding. I meet them where they are. I don’t expect them to know it like I know, so once I understand what their likes and dislikes are, I can meet them where they are academically or just intellectually and bring them up to where we need them to be to have success.”

Even though Lewis has only been with LASA a short while, he has enjoyed it, despite it being very different from what he expected. According to Lewis, the way the school operates and the students and staff’s receptiveness to help has been a bit of a culture shock. 

“I’m still having culture shock,” Lewis said. “Like the fact that there are no bells and the kids are so respectful, and nice, and willing to work and help. The kids are awesome. All the athletes have really embraced what we’re trying to do for the team, they want to be a good team, so they’re really working hard at it. This is the kind of place I like to be in.”

This is currently LASA’s third year of having sports independent from Lyndon Baines Johnson Early College High School after the move to the current campus. Despite the fact that the football team was formed relatively recently and does not have much experience with competitive high school football, Lewis has high hopes for the team and believes they can become one of the best teams in the district. 

“I hope to be a top two contender in the district and to be the baby Westlake for football,” Lewis said. “I want to produce a powerhouse, and it can happen here because there’s a lot of nuances with working here that other schools don’t have. I know we can’t recruit for football, but if we’re doing well kids are gonna want to come here not only with academics but for athletics as well.”