The Kentucky football program kicked off the start of its 2021 football season by saluting one of its best. Hours after current players officially reported to campus for summer workouts, about a hundred former players gathered at Keene Trace Golf Club for the inaugural Schlarman Strong Scramble.
“It’s really overwhelming to see all these people come out for John, for us and for the university,” said LeeAnne Schlarman.
John’s former colleagues spearheaded the event. The UK assistant coaches covered most of the cost, allowing all proceeds to go directly to the Schlarman family.
“The first things are always hard,” said LeeAnne. “It’s been a tough seven months but really, almost three years now, but the outpouring of support from the university, and the coaches and really all of the community has just been, amazing. We knew John had a big impact, but you really didn’t know what kind of impact he had until, unfortunately, now. It’s been crazy. We really feel the love and support from everybody.”
This event is the first of many ways the program will support Schlarman’s family and honor his legacy. Darian Kinnard, now larger than life ahead of his final season in Lexington, did not share specifics but did reveal that No. 65 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
“Considering we’re the Big Blue Wall, it’s never going to go away. We’re going to continue to honor Coach Schlarman and we’re still going to rep that 65 during these games. We’re still going to play for him. He taught us how to play and he’s going to be with us. You’re going to see that in our play in how aggressive we are,” said Kinnard.
“The man literally gave his life for Kentucky, for us and the program. Every bit of it is deserved.”
“(Coach John Schlarman’s) legacy will never be forgotten. That’s why we’re here today and that’s why we’ll recognize him for a long time in the future.”
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) June 8, 2021
To keep his legacy alive, friends, former players and teammates shared stories and lots of laughs, hopefully healing some fresh wounds. Mark Stoops was grateful for all of the time he was able to spend with The Great American.
“John personified everything you want. He embodied everything you’re looking for in a Wildcat. He was first of all just a remarkable man. He did it in his own unique way,” Stoops said. “He did his job. He did it in a quiet manner, but everybody knew what he stood for with his family, with his faith and with the Wildcats.”
If you would like to join the community supporting the Schlarmans, checks can be made payable to the John Schlarman Family Donation Account at any Central Bank branch, or mail to: Central Bank, C/O Private Banking, 300 W Vine Street, Lexington, KY 40507.