As local legends go, Steve Lineweaver ranks among the most recognizable figures in our community. His decades-long tenure at Trinity High School brought the district its first (and second, and third) State Championship in football. More importantly, his time as a coach in HEB ISD impacted thousands of young men who looked to him for guidance. He remains one of the most celebrated figures in Euless, TX. But he never wanted that.
It’s hard to identify a solitary reason that Lineweaver came to volunteer with 6 Stones on a weekly — sometimes daily — basis. Perhaps it’s his unassuming demeanor. Maybe it’s a need to step out of the spotlight in his retirement. More likely, his service is rooted in his faith. There’s a family legacy of volunteerism to consider, as well. But to say that any one of those things is the absolute reason that the former coach decided to shift gears and drive a refrigerated truck would miss the bigger picture.
Steve Lineweaver volunteers because it’s who he is. Or, as he would say it, it’s who he has always been becoming.
Shortly after winning his third title in five years at Trinity, Steve Lineweaver stepped away from the Trojans’ locker room for good. After 47 years as a teacher-coach — 15 of them in Euless — it was time to move on. For many Americans, retirement means golf courses and country clubs. Lineweaver chose a different path. He chose lonely hours in the cab of a truck. He chose day after day of hard labor, pushing heavy crates of food donations around a warehouse away from the public eye.
When asked about his unorthodox hobby, Lineweaver defers to a postcard he received from another Texas coaching legend: Mack Brown, of University of Texas fame.
“Retirement sounds old,” Brown wrote. “How about you and me call it rewirement?”
Lineweaver was happy to rethink retirement, jumping at the chance to join a sparse rotation of truck drivers who help to keep our food pantry, the New Hope Center, stocked every week. Without hesitation, he traded in loafers and a recliner for Nike sneakers and a bucket seat.
“I could say it just happened, but I’ve come to believe in my late Christian maturity that God set it all up,” Lineweaver said. “This is His mission field for me. That’s what I’m studying and I keep learning in my Christian walk. I’m just so happy that He has something for me.
“I don’t even remember looking. I was already sold on 6 Stones before I stepped away from coaching, so it was a pretty natural thing. There, I met great people that already were doing the Lord’s work, and they lovingly brought me in. I don’t have a lot of the warehouse skills that a lot of the guys do. I don’t drive a forklift and I’m not as tool smart. But they lovingly overlook that and know that I’ll try real hard anyway.”
One Day at a Time
It’s no surprise that the former coach would so heartily embrace a catchphrase. Throughout his career, Lineweaver made liberal use of mantras and parables. He spun stories about ants, hammers, and desert wanderers; preached that “school is business,” and that players should “enter to learn and exit to serve.” Above all else, his players seem to remember him as a wise man who wanted to shape them more than he wanted to win.
His coaching staff worked the same way, and he littered our interview with phrases that helped to build a winning culture at Trinity. Chief among the ideas he championed was the attitude that his players were in-process and his job was to further them on their journey. He spoke of his hopes for them when they were “34 years old, married with two kids and a job.” And he always returned to one central tenet: that changing the world requires us to allow ourselves to be interrupted.
“People are always walking by. They’re racing, they’re on that hamster wheel. We just need to pause,” he said. “If we want that better world if we want Heaven on Earth — it’s not meant to be all stored up for us in Heaven, it’s meant to be Heaven on Earth — then we have to slow down. Pause. Allow ourselves to be interrupted. And believe that everyone walking on this Earth is God’s child and treat them as such.
“This wasn’t a decision I made. It was something that the Lord put in front of me, to go and run with this. To me, it’s just as important as what I had in coaching and teaching. Sometimes you can’t reach 300 at a time. But if you get up in the morning and you pray ‘Lord, let me have the right presence and be willing to have a Reach Out attitude to whoever crosses my path today.’ The opportunity is there; people come back and need things at the warehouse. To be able to give them kindness and a smile, to show them that you have a love towards them and give them hope, is very gratifying to me.”
A Lifetime of Preparation
Lineweaver has dedicated himself to service because he believes in the example set by the two most important figures in his own life. First and foremost, he follows Jesus. But beyond his daily study of scripture, the coach’s prevailing example is his own father. Fitting, given the family’s penchant for developing young men and leaving legacies behind.
Steve Lineweaver grew up in a segregated town. His father, a licensed social worker, had risen through the ranks as a General Secretary for the YMCA. In an era that saw students placed in different schools because of the color of their skin, the elder Lineweaver went out of his way to expose his family to other cultures. He took his children to an African American doctor and brought them to Hispanic neighborhoods to play. More progressively, he drove children of color to the YMCA so that they could have access to the same amenities as the rest of the town.
“The YMCA back then in the late 50s was the 24 Hour Fitness,” Steve Lineweaver recalled. “All the rich oil men went there to get massages upstairs. This was a nuisance to them, to have these boys of different color in a very segregated time. And they were the ones that had the money. My dad got fired eventually because of [it].”
Lineweaver’s mother insisted that the family stay put, and her husband obliged. For 25 years, he sorted mail at night to provide for his family. During the day, he volunteered at the YMCA, in the same office that had fired him. His sons all followed in his footsteps, each of them volunteering to serve their communities in their own way. For Steve, there was nothing more important than diversity.
“Trinity is the most diverse high school — and this is data proven — in the United States. Fifth in the world,” he said. “I think I was prepared for that when I was six and seven years old. That’s why Trinity was special to me.”
2018 projections rank Trinity 5th in the nation for diversity. But Lineweaver’s endorsement holds true, as does his track record. At all three schools where he coached, he was the first to start an African American quarterback. At Trinity, he was the first to give a Polynesian player the nod. He says it was never political; those players earned their spots. And their head coach quietly endured criticism from less progressive members of the community.
Once again, his players were the priority. Not because he wanted to win, but because he wanted them to succeed long after the stadium lights faded away. He might not have had the word at the time, but Lineweaver was already preaching the importance of constant Rewirement. For himself and for others.
Passing the Torch
“[As a coach] you have such a responsibility to make sure you give a message that’s worthy,” Lineweaver said. “You better get right in the morning before you go be in front of those kids, because they are listening.”
That’s what “rewirement” really means; that’s the heartbeat behind Lineweaver’s volunteer service. Every day he gets behind the wheel of the 6 Stones truck is about getting his heart and mind right with God. Of course, there’s still the helpful side effect that he can inspire the people he encounters along the way.
“Sometimes I see families that remember me from when I coached them or their children. It’s just so nice to interact: ‘Coach, what are you doing now?’ ‘I’m serving. I'm rewired. Come join me sometime!’ It’s nice. I’m glad that I’m still in the community that I served as a teacher-coach.”
As a coach, Lineweaver viewed the football field as the last classroom of the day. As a retired volunteer, he sees the whole community that way. That makes driving the truck especially fun in the month of October, when the entire school district competes in the Black and Blue Food Drive; a competition dominated by L.D. Bell High School and the Blue side of the district since a student at Bedford Junior High first helped to develop it.
“I’m so excited that students came up with that,” he said. “My thought is that needs to be in the forefront. Coming up, students need to know that this is theirs. This was originated by them… we’re planting seeds for the future that not only will help the community, but it will help them in their Christian walk. Serving others.”
For Lineweaver, there is no higher calling than empowering young men and women to better themselves and the world around them. That’s how you build an enduring legacy.
Want to join coach Lineweaver's Rewirement movement? We’re always looking for volunteers to serve in the warehouse and New Hope Center! Email Ashley King (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details, and don’t forget to support your local school in the Black and Blue Food Drive!