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Coach Steve on the sidelines at a Youth Contact team game

10 Questions With Coach Stephen Lewis

This weeks victim is the U17 contact Head Coach, Stephen Lewis. Coach Steve is another man who has brought his family along with him in his love for the sport and the Exiles! Coach Steve’s son Jack was recently promoted to Head Coach of the U19s contact team and between them both they have a plethora of awards, spanning multiple years, in youth football. We would like to thank Coach Steve and the Lewis family for their continued support to our organisation.

How did you get into American Football?

My Dad starting watching the Channel 4 NFL coverage when it began in 1982. Back then there were only four channels to choose from; two of which only showed religious programmes on a Sunday evening, so we would watch the NFL. Once we were older, my brother and I became regular spectators at Olympians games at Crystal Palace, including the Budweiser Bowl II in 1986. We became lifelong fans, so much so that my wife and I attended the first game that the London Ravens ever lost to another U.K. team. When my eldest son began playing Centre for the Exiles Youth Team in 2009 I would go to watch and fill up the water bottles. After a few seasons, I offered to run the Defense for a tournament when the coordinator (Dave Bryant) had another engagement that day, and I haven’t looked back from coaching since.

Did you play American football/what position did you play?

Unfortunately, I have never played a competitive down in my life!

What position did you dream you could play?

Defensive end.

Why the Exiles?

The Exiles are very much our local club and the commitment to competing at every different level is compelling!

What is your greatest achievement in this sport so far?

There are many:

  • The 2019 Youth National Championship, where I was honoured to have succeeded with both my sons alongside me as my coaching staff
  • Qualifying for Britbowl the last 7 consecutive years, the only club in the entire league to do so
  • In the 2016 regular season our defence conceded only 72 points whilst scoring 48 themselves. The following regular season they allowed no rushing TDs
  • Our 2018 team lead the league in both points scored and fewest conceded. That year our Development Team also qualified for The Plate
  • The number of our former Youth players who have been accepted into the NFL Academy

What motivates you to coach football?

The interaction with the players is what I really enjoy, all of them are keen to learn. The hope is that I can be a positive impact on their lives, as once my players have achieved something, it is part of their personal history forever.

What are your goals for the Kent Exiles U17 contact team over the next five years?

To continue to win our division every year and working towards another National Championship. My main focus is to produce players that the club can be proud of both on and off the pitch. I hope to improve communication and build closer ties with the Junior and Senior Teams, to help more players reach their goals in getting to the NFL Academy.

Aside from the Kent Exiles, which team do you support and why?

The Washington Football Team because John Riggins was my original favourite player, alongside the Florida Gators. The Gators purely because of the mascots and atmosphere, I really like the creativity they deploy to represent the teams, for example, they play the Jaws theme when the Defense comes out! I have since seen another NCAA team use the music from Halloween, which I thought was brilliant!

For me, it is all about the pageantry, I follow the Arkansas Razorbacks for decorating a car as a pig and calling it ‘The Hogfather’! I love a good mascot, there’s nothing better!

If you could have one NFL or college player on your team who would it be?

Lawrence Taylor (in an entirely sober state!)

What sets American football apart from other sports and why do you think it is growing so well in the UK?

There is a position for every body size or shape and all are welcome. The increase in coverage in recent years has been astronomical in comparison to the meagre beginnings in the 1980s.