The high intensity is felt in the gym even during the walk-through for Detroit Henry Ford’s league home opener against Mumford. This culture has been instilled in Coach Ken Flowers since he stood where his players stand, under the guidance of legendary coach Derrick McDowell at Detroit Redford. It’s a contagious atmosphere, even though they play on legendary Greg Kelser’s gym, Ken Flowers reigns over this court.
The athletic departments’ mission statement pretty much sums it up:
This mission is a living breathing document and way of life at Henry Ford; a welcome one at that. A reputation in the city that had been less than stellar in the past is evolving into what schools should be: a positive fixture of the community it serves. This was not an overnight sensation, but a indication of what occurs when dedicated professionals stay the course to make a positive change in the lives of students.
Being here since 2007 through five administrations the culture has changed, especially the past two years due to Principal Yvonne Lewis!
Positive changes have occurred safety-wise, academically (being a web-based school) and giving personalized attention to every student. The small environment approach is working for everyone; even Coach Flowers has advanced himself to better reach his players as a coach and on a personal level.
Flowers is now in his 10th year coaching. After his collegiate career he started off as JV head coach at Redford and that’s when he knew coaching was his calling. He was handed the reigns as head coach when McDowell moved on to Eastern Michigan University as an assistant and stayed there until their doors closed in 2007. He’s been at Henry Ford since then and added athletic director to his title in 2011.
Closing your eyes it’s hard to tell that it’s practice. The same high level of execution in the game is expected at practice. The biggest exception is that Flowers has time to teach, sharing the knowledge that he knows his team needs for a deep run into the statetournament. Flowers is no stranger to deep playoff runs being involved in Redford’s Breslin Center appearances in 2004, 2006 and 2007. So being ranked #1 in Class B in the state isn’t overwhelming for a coach of his stature.
Don’t let the scowl fool you, Flowers is here for multiple reasons; the love of the game, the reward of teaching the game the right way and allowing these young men to advance themselves on the next level, both athletically and academically.
As much success as Flowers has had in his career, one would think his greatest achievement as a coach would be basketball related, but its not.
My greatest achievement as a coach is having 4 of my former players receiving their master’s degree.
He understands that at the end of the day there is just one champion, so he focuses on developing the entire player, both on and off the court. He’s instilled in his players to develop who they are now, because the character traits you display in high school won’t be that far from what you do in adult life. A majority of his players have bought into it and Flowers estimates 65-70% of his players have gone on to play basketball on a scholarship.
When cornered with the task of picking his Mount Rushmore of former players, Flowers smiled and laughed and reluctantly revealed his all-time team.
#1 Manny Harris- Redford/Michigan/NBA
#2 Matthew Hunter-Henry Ford/CCSU
#3 Lawrence Bridges- Henry Ford/RMU
#4 Warren Jackson- Henry Ford/SFSU
#5 Kendahl Amerson- Henry Ford/Bradley
Once in his program, Coach Flowers promises his players will know how to play, be prepared and understand its their responsibility to take care of their academics. Flowers has high ethics regarding grades and is above reproach when it comes to using his influence to encourage teachers to change grades; another trait passed down from Coach McDowell.
Flower stands in a situation most couldn’t and ever fewer would attempt to take on. A pillar in the school community as a coach, mentor and role model not to mention a devoted father figure to all students. How ironic is it that on January 27th pupil and mentor will matchup at Western International High School in the battle of the #1 teams in Class A (Western) and Class B (Henry Ford); guaranteed to be one for the ages!