Central High School dedicates football field to legendary coach Mike Owen

Published: Oct. 1, 2021 at 5:47 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Some people remember former Central football and tennis coach Mike Owen as a teacher and mentor. Others remember his legacy as a pillar in the Central and Evansville community.

“I first met coach Mike Owen in 2004, got to know him really well, so had a good relationship with him through the years,” Central head football coach Andy Zirkelbach said. “Did coach with him for nine years as an assistant here. Coach was a great guy to so many people in this high school, in this community. It’s only fitting the field was named after him.”

For 21 seasons, Owen was at the helm of the Bears program. He spent time ranked number one in Class 4A, and went out on top in his final season, finishing 10-0 in the regular season before turning the reigns over to his son, Andy.

In 2019, Mike passed away after a battle with leukemia.

“When my dad was able to come back and coach with us, and even after I left remaining part of the program, it wasn’t about just our family, it was about Central and the community,” Andy Owen, Mike’s son said. “My dad made that obvious sticking through whoever was the coach, this place was very special to him.”

The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Foundation launched a campaign in August to name Central’s football field after Owen, reaching their goal to raise $50,000.

On Friday, Central alumni and those who knew him are travelled from near and far to witness the official Coach Mike Owen Field dedication.

“You’ll see some familiar faces from the past,” Zirkelbach said. “It’ll be a big turnout for the Central High School community from previous several decades. Biggest word that comes to my mind is passion for Coach Mike Owen. For how he treats people, his passion for football, coaching young student-athletes.”

With the field dedication, Owen’s legacy will now forever be part of the Central football program.

“Sure he coached football, he coached tennis, but the relationship within the community, and in the hallways at Central, is what made him so special,” Andy said.

On Thursday, Mike was inducted into the EVSC Hall of Fame.

Central officially dedicated Mike Owen Field before the Bears hosted Harrison on Friday night.

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