When Nick Lowe resigned from his basketball coaching position at St. Francis de Sales following a 14-8 City League runner-up finish in 2010, he wasn’t sure he would ever coach again.
That uncertainty ended a year later, when the coaching post opened up at Bedford, where standout player Jackson Lamb had two years remaining in his career.
Lowe returned to the bench, Lamb turned in two all-state seasons, and the Kicking Mules reached some milestones together.
In 2011-12, Lowe guided the Mules to an 18-6 finish that concluded in the Michigan Class A regional final, setting a school record for the most wins by the boys team.
This season, the Mules finished 18-4, and posted an 11-1 record in the Southeastern Conference’s Red Division, giving Bedford its first boys basketball league title in school history.
For his contributions, Lowe is The Blade’s 2013 boys coach of the year.
Other top candidates included, St. John’s Ed Heintschel, who became Ohio’s 10th boys coach to reach 600 career wins en route to his Titans repeating as Three Rivers Athletic Conference champion, Bryan Borcherdt, who guided Anthony Wayne to its first Northern Lakes League crown since 1998, and Jim Bostdorff of Otsego, who led the Knights to their first league title since 2001.
“It was a time in my career where I felt like I really needed a break,” Lowe said of leaving St. Francis. “I was starting to get burned out, and I wasn’t enjoying it anymore."
Lowe, and his wife, Christie, have a son, 10, and daughter, 7.
“With a young family, things were up in the air," he said. "That changed a year later when the Bedford job opened. After discussing it with my family, I decided to pursue that job.”
“Looking back now, after two successful years, I’m very glad with the choice that we made. The success we’ve had isn’t just about me. We’ve had some very good assistant coaches, and some quality players in the program that we were able to lead.”
The talented 6-foot-6 Lamb averaged 26.0 points and 10.9 rebounds this season.
“Jackson Lamb is a once-in-a-lifetime player for a coach,” Lowe said. “When you’re talking about building a foundation and coming in new as a coach, obviously having a player the caliber of Jackson Lamb makes the transition easier.
“What I try to bring to the table more than anything is trying to get the most out of the kids. Trying to make them see that they can always play a little harder, or give a little more effort.”
Lowe, 41, a 1990 graduate of Central Catholic where he played for coach Bill Axe, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Toledo.
He began his coaching career early, returning to Central during his freshman year at UT to be an assistant coach for the Irish Gray (second-level) freshman team.
The following year he moved to Northwood to become an assistant under his own former Central freshman coach, Ron Estes, and then spent one season as freshman coach and six more as junior varsity coach while teaching at St. Francis.
Lowe became the Knights head coach in 2001-02, and in nine seasons posted a 113-68 record.
These days, Lowe owns his own business, M & W Silkscreen. When he began coaching at Bedford, he brought along former longtime St. John’s assistant Ed Mouch as an assistant.
The two former City League foes have blended well, with Lowe orchestrating the defense, and Mouch handling the Mules’ offense.
“When I came on the scene, obviously there were people in place that made this achievable,” Lowe said of Bedford’s milestones. “[Mules athletic director and former basketball coach] Mark German has done a terrific job helping me along, and educating me on Bedford basketball.
“The people here have had an appreciation for the players in particular. It really kind of hit home last Friday in our district final against Milan. We had over 1,700 in our gym. The community support has been tremendous.”