Lanier Middle School Gymnasium Named in Honor of Cottrell B. McGowan
Retired educator, principal and veteran Cottrell McGowan
The new gym being completed at R. O’Hara Lanier Middle School in Freeport is soon to become the Cottrell B. McGowan Gymnasium. The Brazosport Independent School’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved honoring the former Lanier High School coach at its last meeting. In accordance with BISD Local Policy, in naming a new facility, the Board held a public hearing to consider naming recommendations.
Charlie Hawkins, former Lanier High student and Brazosport High School graduate, spoke with Superintendent Danny Massey and the board during the hearing on March 15. “Nobody knew when he (Cottrell B. McGowan) was hired in 1957 that he would bring the first state championship to BISD in 1960,” Hawkins said.
Later, when the naming of the new Cottrell B. McGowan Gymnasium was approved, Hawkins told the Board, “You don’t know how much this means to him, to me, and to a whole lot of people in our community. Thank you.”
The new Lanier gym is scheduled for completion in May with the formal naming ceremony to be held in early summer.
Background Information on Coach McGowan:
Cottrell McGowan was hired in 1957 to coach football, basketball, track and baseball, without assistant coaches, for the R. O’Hara Lanier Schools, the then segregated school system in the Brazosport School District. His wife Joan was hired as the school’s librarian. Cottrell immediately began to turn the weak football program into a state powerhouse.
In the first year, the Lanier Wildcats finished with an 8-2 record, finished 12 - 1 in 1958, and 13 - 1 in 1959. That season, the Wildcats’ only loss was at the state semifinal contest. Then, in 1960, Coach McGowan led the team to the Class A State Championship, the first in BISD and in Brazoria County. Before a more than capacity crowd at Hopper Field, the Lanier Wildcats completed their perfect 14-0 season against Dunbar, 28-24, earning their title. During his 8 years of coaching at Lanier High School, McGowan’s teams earned an astonishing 90-12 record.
In 1965, when the school district was fully integrated, Coach McGowan went to coach at Freeport Junior High and Brazosport High Schools. In 1969, McGowan was hired by the Colorado University Buffaloes as a football coach and recruiter, one of the first African-Americans to hold a position on any major college coaching staff. After a distinguished 15 years at University of Colorado, McGowan retired from coaching.
Coach Cottrell McGowan has been recognized as the Annual Receiving Leader, by Texas Southern University and was inducted into the Prairie View Interscholastic League Coaches Association Hall of Honor, in 2006.
Coach Cottrell B. McGowan now resides in Nacogdoches, Texas, where he and fellow retirees tutor struggling students three times a week. Coach McGowan, still a father figure to many of his former Lanier players, stays in contact with his fellas and they get together as often as possible.
McGowan pictured here holding the actual game ball for the championship game.