LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Some Solid Blue fan say it was tough watching University of Kentucky football play Saturday without offensive line coach John Schlarman, but it’s clear his leadership made a lasting impact.
“I don’t think the word quit was in his vocabulary,” says Jason Hazelrigg, lifelong Cats’ fan and co-host of the ‘Rockin’ KY Blue’ podcast.
“Seeing him as a fan, you know – being on the sideline, going to practice after chemo therapy. It’s just – wow.”
That’s why Schlarman’s death Thursday, after a two year battle with cancer, was hard for Hazelrigg to process.
Schlarman’s last game coaching for the Cats was the win at Tennessee October 17.
“You knew he was tough, and when you know someone like that you just don’t want to believe that,” Hazelrigg says.
Solid Blue fan Denny Rice feels the same.
“You hope that was something that was going to be temporary and he was going to be back on the sidelines to make his contributions like he always did,” Rice says.
As a former football coach himself, Rice says he knows it takes more than on-field instructions to be someone players look up to.
“I think it’s important that we put our best foot forward – that we’re positive, encouraging, and that we’re teaching not only football, but life lessons as well.”
Something he says Schlarman clearly lived up to.
“You can see the tributes that are out there – how they rallied around him,” Rice says. It’s a devastating loss for the university.”
Hazelrigg says Saturday’s win was significant because it’s in line with Schlarman’s mantra – just keep going.
“Go Big Blue and just keep pushing forward.”