John Rabon retires (Seguin Lifegate) after 47 years coaching


Six-man pro
The Seguin Gazette ran a very long (over a full page) story today about John Rabon's coaching career, cumulating in his last 15 years as the only head coach in the Lifegate Christian School football program.

We started the program in 2002; took the field in 2003. Besides two state titles (2012 and 2017), he made the playoffs 13 of 15 years. Our first game was a 32-12 loss to Fredericksburg Heritage in 2003, who we beat in 2012 for the state title. Our first playoff game was an 88-6 loss to Granbury Happy Hill in 2003, which became Granbury NCTA and the 2017 title game where Lifegate won 90-40.

The program began in late 2001 when I had this crazy idea as a volunteer AD that Lifegate would benefit from a six-man football program. Rabon was hired as PE teacher in the fall of 2002 after retiring from Seguin ISD, I think I had met him briefly once before I had a summer meeting with the coaches. I thought I had everything more-or-less figured out except for coaching (which probably was a big if) and asked John what he thought about having a six-man team at Lifegate. His answer was something like, "John, this was the first year since I was 12 years old that I hadn't played or coached football, and I wasn't sure how I' d handle it. Sure, let's try." A few months later, the school and church leadership allowed us to proceed to raise the money and start the program, kicking off in the fall of 2003.

Our first game almost was against Austin Regents, then the two-time state champion. I couldn't fill the opening date and one day the phone rings. It's Beck Brydon, asking if we'd consider opening the season at Regents. I thanked my good friend for thinking of us, but my better judgement (and worry about my potential liability for child endangerment prosecution) declined his offer. I joke that it could have been the first and last game of Lifegate football. We ended up getting Freddy, who was in their second year and finished their first year 1-6. Heck, we figured we had a chance. I think Freddy lost their next game and went on a 35-36 game winning streak after that.

I still remember the first Lifegate touchdown. We punted the ball to the Eagles. I see the ref motioning that the ball had been touched by a Freddy player and the ball rolls dead at the 2 yard line. One of our players and one of Freddy's is staring at the ball, no whistle. I'm running down the sideline yelling, "It's live, pick it up." The kid from Lifegate has this blank look on his face, but picks up the ball and takes two large steps to the end zone and we score. ... 228eb.html

Rabon retires from LCS, ending his 47 years of coaching

Priscilla Aguirre
[email protected]
Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 12:00 am

After 47 years of coaching and teaching at several different schools in Texas, Lifegate Christian Falcons’ retiring head coach John Rabon said goodbye to his successful career after his team won the state championships earlier this month.

“I’ve had a lot of fun and, of course, finishing the year with a state championship was just awesome,” Rabon said. “I’ve just learned a lot about people and learned a lot about myself. It’s just been a great ride. Quite honestly, I have received more than I've given. Because I’ve gotten to be a part of all
these young men and — in some cases — young women’s lives and that’s just a blessing and a privilege. I’m just very, very grateful.”

Before Rabon taught players how to tackle or block, he spent his younger years in his hometown, Fort Stockton. When he was a junior in high school, Rabon was working out on the football field watching his former high school football coach perform his job. As he saw his coach cruise up-and-down the track in a golf cart, he suddenly knew he was meant to be a coach.

“I watched him drive around and said to myself ‘hey, that’s what I want to do,’” Rabon laughed. “I enjoy sports, but that moment is the time I decided to become a coach and that just kind of got me going.”

Rabon played football and basketball, but said he wasn’t a great player in either of the sports. But with his experience as an athlete, he felt that he could be a solid coach, because he knew what it was like to be a player that wants to be on the field.

“I think I’m the best kind of guy to be a coach because I know what it’s like on both ends,” Rabon said. “I know what it’s like to be an average player and I know what it’s like to want to play. I also know what it’s
like to work hard at it so you can get to play.”

Once Rabon graduated from Howard Payne University, he and his wife Cindy moved from city to city
throughout Texas almost every year so he could get experience as a coach and a teacher.

“Moving after a year was pretty much typical,” Rabon said. “I think a lot of coaches know that when you first start off you’re going to be moving a lot to either maybe get better money or a better position, so I did that first.”

For the first 20 years of Rabon’s coaching career, he taught and coached multiple sports at various schools, but also served as a pastor and a minister to several churches.

“In those years, we were young and we didn’t mind loading up the U-Haul and moving out,” Rabon said.

“We didn’t have much, so that wasn’t too hard. Everywhere we moved, we found us a church and found us some friends. However long we were there, we made the city a home. The Lord just worked it all out, because for about the first 20 to 25 years everywhere I was coaching, I also was ministering. It just worked out.”

When Rabon was living in Carrizo Springs, he felt far away from his family, but stayed to coach high school
football and basketball for five years.

But when Rabon’s two sons, John and James, were born he wanted to find a home close to his family or his wife’s family and raise their children.

“There’s something about having kids that makes you want to set down roots,” Rabon said. “Once we had our first son — who was born in Eagle Pass when I was down in Carrizo Springs — we got to looking and asked ourselves where would be a good place to settle down and raise our family.”

As he was searching for a new location to live, Rabon came across a coaching position in Luling.

“I wanted to move somewhere further North to be closer to family,” Rabon said. “When I saw Luling needed a coach, I went over there and talked to Bob Ford. I really liked Bob and he liked me, so we went to work and I was there in Luling for 11 years coaching for their high school and junior high. We kind of set roots and both of my sons graduated from there.”

After 11 years in Luling, Rabon received a call from a colleague asking him to move to Seguin to be the athletic coordinator for Saegert Middle School.

“They asked me to come and I came,” Rabon said. “I retired after 30 years because Saegert was going to become a sixth-grade center and they were going to build a new school (Jim Barnes Middle School) … I retired because I just really didn’t want to mess with the moving and the hassle of all that.”

Not long after he retired from Saegert, Rabon was called to help start a six-man football program at Lifegate Christian School.

“I told them they were lucky because I had some experience with six-man football when I was coaching in Star, Texas for a year,” Rabon said. “So I took the job and went out there. We spent the first year just trying to figure out what it was going to cost for us to start up. While we were doing that, I coached basketball and track.”

As they were building the program, Rabon said he learned that a lot of things that apply to 11-man football don’t apply to six-man, but felt the general rules of the game still remain the same.

“When you get right down to it, football is football,” Rabon said. “It’s blocking and tackling. If you block well and tackle, you’re going to be all right.”

For his coaching philosophy, Rabon said he tried to make it clear to his players that if they are willing to work hard and improve, he will find a place to play them.

“We had about eight guys that did most of the playing, but we found places for the guys that were working hard,” Rabon said. “Granted they didn’t play as much as the starters did, but they got a taste of it … And that was pretty much the philosophy we used for Lifegate.”

Using his coaching technique, Rabon was able to have a successful career at Lifegate.

Since the six-man program began in 2003, Rabon has led the Falcons to the playoffs all but two years, to the semi-finals four times and has won two state titles, one in 2012 (with his son Austin on the team) and the other this year.

“It’s just been really great over the years,” Rabon said. “The kids come in and learn what is expected of them and we work them hard, but we all have a lot of fun … This year, even if we had not won the state championship it would have still been fun, because they all worked hard. It’s been like a big family, we just get along and every now and then we have a scrabble, but we get over it and go on.”

Rabon said it’s been a great ride coaching six-man football, adding that he couldn’t have done anything without the players, coaches, parents and his wife's support.

“Over the years, I’ve had a really good group of men (coaches),” Rabon said. “When you’re working with people that you enjoy and you’re working with kids that you enjoy, it makes everything so much better. I also really appreciate all the parents because you can’t have a program without them. Many of them mean a lot to me. My wife also has just been awesome. Despite the number of hours that I have spent as a coach, she's been really supportive and just encouraging."

After 16 years at Lifegate, Rabon decided to officially retire after his team won the state championship.

“Everybody thought I would retire last year, but I didn’t feel like it was time,” Rabon said. “My main reason for retiring was just because I’m getting older. I like coaching the boys and I love football, but I’m just getting to the point where I’m not quite physically able to coach the game the way I want to coach it. But, I appreciate Lifegate for starting a football program and letting me be a part of it all these years. It's been a real blessing to me.”

With Rabon retiring from Lifegate, the search for a new head coach starts. Although Rabon hasn’t heard any news about his replacement, he knows Lifegate will try to find someone who will always find a way to honor God.

“We try to focus everything we do in honor of God,” Rabon said. “That’s how we coach football and that’s how we play. So as long as they have a coach that comes in and focuses on that, then they will be alright. For the next two years, they have a chance to be really good. I just trust the Lord with that. He's going to
bring in the right guys and they are going to do well.”

Moving forward, Rabon said he doesn’t have any big plans other than to do things in the fall that he normally didn’t get to do because of football and also to enjoy the retirement life.

“I’m just going to take a year off and see how it goes, and if I can’t stand it, I’ll find somebody who will
need an old broken down coach,” Rabon laughed. “I’m going to give it a year and just kind of retire and see how things go.”

Looking back at his coaching years, Rabon said he has had a great career and wouldn’t trade it with

“I’ve always loved athletics, the camaraderie and the feeling that you’ve accomplished something,” he said. “ … I never made much money, but I’ve had a great life. Every place I’ve coached, I’ve learned something about myself, people and the game. I think every place I’ve coached just prepared me for the next. I can see God’s hand in it all. Whatever happens tomorrow, will be what he wants me to do next.”
Seguin Gazette named John as the Coach of the Year for area teams in 2017. He won the award at least once before (2012) and I think probably once or twice before.

Some of us are planning a get-together of former players, friends, and opposing coaches in the spring. If you're interested, PM me.


John Taddy