Schlarman finds escape from disease, worry with Kentucky football


The Football Team training camp Friday, August 10, 2018. Photo by Britney Howard | UK Athletics

When going through a life-changing event, sometimes people find escape in continuing their normal activities, pretending like nothing bad is going on.

For Kentucky’s offensive line coach John Schlarman, that’s why he continues to coach the offensive line.

“I’ve been able to maybe not sit around and worry all dag-on day about things,” Schlarman said. “I can just go to work and do what I would do on a normal, regular basis and I think that’s refreshing mentally.”

What Schlarman is trying to not worry about are the health issues he’s been battling since mid-June. Schlarman just finished his second round of chemotherapy last Friday, but he still continues to coach the offensive line thanks to Mark Stoops.

“I couldn’t work for a better head coach in America because he’s put family first all the time,” Schlarman said. “That’s easy to say in the recruiting process, it’s easy to say on a daily— in side talk, but when it comes into play, he’s done that. He’s been an unbelievable boss and allowed our family to deal with this in the way we need to, but also allow me to continue to work, which is important to me.”

Stoops has been very supportive of Schlarman during this process. He wants Schlarman to continue to coach the offensive line, but knows that showing up to practices is not the top priority for Schlarman right now.

“His family and his health is absolutely first and foremost, and he knows that,” Stoops said at Monday’s press conference. “We have had conversations along the way, every step of the way. Just last night we talked about his plan and his treatment plan through the year.” 

The offensive line is also very supportive of Schlarman, who are also dealing with Landon Young’s injury, a season-ending left knee injury.

Like Stoops, starting center Drake Jackson knows that health is Schlarman’s top priority right now, but he’s enjoyed having him around practice and motivating them to be strong. 

“He’s just living what he preaches,” Jackson said. “Fighting throughout he adversity, growing up, being a man, leading by example for all of us.” 

Jackson admits that sometimes the practices seem so routine that the entire unit is able to forget about the situation Schlarman is facing.

“It kind of scares us because we forget that he’s going through it just the way he’s acting,” Jackson said. “Some of the dudes didn’t even know about it till they saw it on Twitter.”

That’s ultimately why Schlarman continues to coach the offensive line during this scary time of his life. He said he enjoys coming into work everyday and getting the chance to mentor the young kids that look up to him.

Schlarman will continue being on the sidelines unless something changes. He will also continue taking treatments until the illness goes away.

“The reality of the situation is you take it day-by-day, so that’s what I’m going, taking it day-by-day,” Schlarman said. “I don’t know what next week, next month, next year is going to bring, but I’m going to take it day-by-day and just keep on grinding.”