KM community mourns loss of Coach Bagwell
(February 3, 2021 Issue)
Kings Mountain sports in general – and football in particular – lost one of its best athletes and coaches last week with the passing of Brent Bagwell.
Bagwell was an all-star athlete in football, basketball and baseball for the Mountaineers, went on to an outstanding playing and coaching career in college and in recent years was a valuable assistant in the KMHS football program.
Bagwell, 51, was buried Saturday at Mountain Rest Cemetery and leaves his wife Shannon, children Paige, DJ and Daniel Bagwell and his mother, Ruth Bagwell, and many other family members and friends to cherish his memory. He joins his father, Danny Bagwell, in Heaven.
Bagwell had an outstanding career at KMHS in the late 1980s and helped Denny Hicks’ Mountaineers to one of their best seasons in history in 1986 when he joined other future collegiate standouts like Rusty Bumgardner and Aubrey Hollifield to lead the Mountaineers to an 11-2 season and three rounds in the state playoffs.
Bagwell was a year younger than the above-mentioned players but played football against them in the collegiate ranks – Bagwell at NC State and Hollifield and Bumgardner at Wake Forest.
Bagwell was also a standout hitter and infielder on the Mountaineer baseball team, and a tough scorer and rebounder on the basketball team. He always said his favorite memory of playing at KMHS was his junior year when the football and basketball teams made a long playoff run before losing to future Florida State and pro quarterback Brad Johnson and his Owen High teammates.
“But the main thing I remember is the special relationship between all the players and coaches,” he said years ago when he was inducted into the Kings Mountain Sports Hall of Fame. “That was a real special time.”
Bagwell was one of the first signees by Coach Dick Sheridan when he took over the NC State head coaching duties in 1988. But, before that Bagwell suffered a serious knee injury that threatened his collegiate career.
Between his football season and baseball season his senior year at KMHS, Bagwell and his father Danny were working on a building project at their home when Brent stepped through a weak place in the floor and suffered a serious knee injury. He feared Coach Sheridan would not honor his commitment but Sheridan told him to not worry about, take time to heal and then report to State.
Bagwell decided not to go on to college for the fall semester but put it off until the spring semester to allow for some healing. He was then red-shirted, giving him more time to heal.
Bagwell worked hard to rehab, and started all of the Wolfpack’s games his redshirt freshman season.
He started them all again
as a sophomore but each
game took a toll on his knee which he had to have repaired after both seasons. He was counseled by doctors not to play anymore, so Coach Sheridan put him on the coaching staff and he helped the Wolfpack to a great season.
During a 10-year period, he would later coach at numerous colleges including TCU, VMI, Newbery and Lenoir Rhyne.
After going into business, he had to take a break from coaching for a while but resurfaced at North Gaston High School where he served as offensive coordinator under head coach Bruce Clark. He helped develop the talents of many outstanding players, including current North Gaston coach Justin Clark, and they led the Wildcats to the NCHSAA 3A championship game.
Bruce Clark, who was also one of Bagwell’s position coaches at KMHS, called him one of the finest people he’s ever known.
“When you go into the coaching profession you came across a bunch of great people,” Clark said. “But a few really stand out. He was one of those.
“He was an amazing young boy when I first met him,” he said. “He always had a devotion for anything he wanted to do. I will never forget he started out in the ninth grade as a quarterback. We moved him to tight end. I remember getting a call from the receiver coach from NC State who said ‘we hear you have a big tight end down there.’ He said they were looking for a three-sport athlete who was big and could play at that level. I told him Bags could play anywhere.
“Brent had always wanted to go to NC State and when I told him what the coach said, he said ‘No way!’ From then on we had an amazing friendship. We went to watch him play a lot.”
Clark recalled taking Bagwell to a specialist in Charlotte after his accident. “He said ‘if what we draw is clear, he’s ok, but if it’s blood he won’t be. He drew four viles of pure blood. But God blessed Brent Bagwell with Coach Sheridan. He stuck with Brent. Brent stayed home an extra semester to rehab and then had a position coach, Robbie Caldwell, who was one of the best in the nation.
“When he ended up medically unable to play he stayed at State as an assistant and later coached under some other great coaches like Pat Sullivan (former Heisman winner) at TCU.”
Throughout Bagwell’s career as a college assistant, he and Clark stayed in touch and Clark and his family would go to a lot of games.
Clark said Bagwell could have been a head coach on the high school or collegiate level, “but he and Shannon wanted a family and I certainly understood that.”
But the two did coach together for seven years at North Gaston, with Clark as head coach and Bagwell as offensive coordinator. “It was an amazing time,” Clark said. “He absolutely loved it. High school is so much purer than the collegiate game. Bags just took over the offense and I was coaching the defense, and it was a match made in heaven. You could trust him. He would work a full day but set a schedule so he could make it to practice. The kids loved him and he helped a lot of them get into school.
“He was an amazing man,” Clark added. “We always had great respect for each other. He was the ultimate daddy and husband. I’ve never seen anyone love each other more than Brent and Shannon. They had the happiest family I’ve ever seen.”
More important than coaching or anything else, Clark said Bagwell loved God.
“When I was in Kings Mountain Brent fell in love with First Presbyterian Church,” Clark recalled. “He became and Elder and just turned into the man that every mom and dad would want their son to be. He was an absolute great guy, one of the few that comes along that you just fall in love with. I’m missing him. I’ve cried every day since he died. Kings Mountain lost a great one!”
KMHS coach Greg Lloyd said Bagwell played a tremendous role in the Mountaineers’ success since he joined the coaching staff in 2014. Since that time the Mountaineers have compiled a 64-19 record with three trips to the Western Regional finals.
“He worked with our skill guys and called the plays for our JV team,” Lloyd noted. “On varsity game nights he was up top for the offense.
“Heaven just got a special man,” he added. “He was a fantastic coach and a great friend. This is a terrible loss and I feel so bad for his family.
“He was always up top talking to us on the head sets. You’d never find a more knowledgeable coach. He was superb. We won’t be able to replace him. He was a special person and a fantastic coach.”