On Thursday, the assistant soccer coach of the University of Kentucky, John Schlarman, died at the age of 45 after a two-year battle against cancer. Players from the university, other employees and fans went on Twitter to honor the beloved coach.
Schlarman joined the staff of head coach Mark Stoops in 2013. In a statement released by the college, Stoops mourned Schlarman’s death. “It breaks my heart to hear about the death of my friend John Schlarman,” he said. “John was everything we all aspire to be – honest, tough, fair and respected. Kentucky football will never be the same without him, but his legacy will never fade. He was a fighter, and we will strive every day to honor his warrior spirit.
In addition to his work as an assistant coach, Schlarman was also a former student of Kentucky, who played on the soccer team as an offensive lineman from 1994 to 1997. According to the statement, Schlarman held various coaching positions in high schools and colleges. While earning his master’s degree in Kentucky from 2000 to 2002, he also assisted with the college’s offensive line. After his return in 2013, Schlarman coached teams that won the VRBO Citrus Bowl in 2018 and the Belk Bowl in 2019.
The football team tweeted a video of Schlarman’s staff on the British football team and players talking about the influence he had on them. Many of the coaches talked about his positive attitude to work, and the players said that he had an influence on them both on and off the field. Luke Fortner, Senior Offensive Guard Luke Fortner, compared Schlarman to “a second father.
In recent months, we have asked members of our @UK football family what @CoachSchlarman means to them.
An incredible person whose influence has an impact on our entire community and who will always have a special place in our hearts ð #SchlarmanStrong pic.twitter.com/4eUUU8oIUi8
– Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 12, 2020
The tributes of NFL players who spent their college careers in Kentucky poured in. Lonnie Johnson Jr, cornerback of Houston Texans, and Benny Snell, running back of the Pittsburgh Steelers, both tweeted their condolences for Schlarman. “Such a selfless and loving coach, grateful to be separated from his legacy and the lessons he learned along the way,” Snell tweeted.
Such a selfless and loving coach who is grateful that he was separated from your legacy and the lessons you taught along the way. Rip Coach you will be missed foreverð #BigblueWall https://t.co/RGuVuEyPLU
– Mr SNELL YA LATERðð¾ (@benny_snell) November 12, 2020
Wow RIP Trainer ð¥ https://t.co/OSRWMtCght
– Lonnie Johnson Jr (@Lonnie30johnson) November 12, 2020
Some former and current players also offered commemorations for the coach. RJ Adams and Jalen Whitlow, who played for Kentucky in the QB in 2013 and 2014, shared their thoughts about the coach. Kentucky women’s soccer coach Ian Carry also tweeted about Schlarman’s and advised his supporters not to take life for granted. “[B]een about a lot of coaches. One of the greats,” Whitlow wrote about Schlarman.
RIP Coach, meant so much to me and so many others ðððð¯
– RJ Adams âð¾ (@exclusivejaayy) November 12, 2020
Man… I’ve been with a lot of coaches. One of the greats. thoughts with his family. RIP coach Schlarman. With much respect. https://t.co/b1HGX3XkX4
– Jalen Whitlow (@JWhitlow_2) November 12, 2020
Life is precious, never take it for granted and live each day to the fullest. RIP-Trainer #SchlarmanStark ð https://t.co/nQIurT0riV
– Ian Carry (@UKCoachCarry) November 12, 2020
Commentators and sports reporters also paid homage to Schlarman. ESPN reporter Taylor McGregor tweeted thoughts about Schlarman’s children in the hope that they would continue to look up to their father.
I hope that his children will forever grow up inspired by the character and courage of their father. May God be with his family. RIP, Coach. #SchlarmanStark ð https://t.co/uVkWZwGOMB
– Taylor McGregor (@Taylor_McGregor) November 12, 2020
A very sad message. RIP coach. https://t.co/FmpFkvEuMo
– Shannon The Dude (@Shannon The Dude) November 12, 2020
Country singer John Michael Montgomery said it was “a sad day for [Kentucky],” showing that the coach’s reach went far beyond football and that his death also affected the fans.
This is a sad day for KY. RIP coach Schlarman. Our prayers are with your familyððð” https://t.co/CqH1BQDlLt
– John Michael Montgomery (@JM2Squared) November 12, 2020