High School Sports

Former MLB star, Arlington Bowie standout now lending a hand at Colleyville Covenant

Former MLB player Vernon Wells, left, and head coach Eric Anderson at Colleyville Covenant.
Former MLB player Vernon Wells, left, and head coach Eric Anderson at Colleyville Covenant. bgosset@star-telegram.com

Vernon Wells played Major League Baseball for 15 years – most notably for the Toronto Blue Jays.

He signed his letter of intent with the University of Texas, but would never play for the Longhorns after the Blue Jays selected Wells fifth overall in the 1997 MLB amateur draft.

After a couple seasons in the minor leagues, Wells made his MLB debut in 1999. He stayed with Toronto until 2010 and finished his career with two seasons with the Angels and one with the Yankees.

Wells is most known for his baseball days, where he hit 270 career home runs and recorded 958 RBI, but how many people remember him as a football player?

He was a standout quarterback at Arlington Bowie and after retiring from baseball – returned home and is now an assistant football coach at Colleyville Covenant.

“He was a very good football player. I remember watching him in high school,” Covenant head coach Eric Anderson said. “Most people don’t know, but Vernon would’ve been a Division I football player.”

Wells has been with the varsity for three years, but also coaches the junior high. His two boys have been attending Covenant since they were 3 and 4 years old.

“We had no intention of coming to this school, but when my oldest was 4, family told us to come check this place out,” Wells said. “Once you walked through the doors and met the people, we were sold.”

When he arrived to the staff, none of the players were really star-struck – mostly because they were too young to remember Wells during his prime, and he’s OK with it.

“Some of them knew, but most of them didn’t, and that’s fine by me. I just wanted to be a dad here and help as much as I can,” Wells said. “The more and more you get away from the game, it’s almost like you didn’t play. Baseball was a part of my life, but now I can be around football and these kids, and impact them on a bigger scale.”

“We had like 20 different college coaches come out one spring to check out some of our kids and once more of them realized that Vernon was on staff, they started taking pictures with him,” Anderson said. “Everyone on the staff gives him a hard time.

“But if you’re around him every day, you realize he’s a humble man and Vernon doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s very much into God and it doesn’t surprise me the amount of success he’s had.”

Wells said his MLB career wasn’t defined by home runs and strikeouts – it was more about impacting lives on and off the diamond. Some of his favorite memories involved his teammates.

So during a Covenant football game one year, Wells just wanted to help.

“I was sitting in the stands and things weren’t clicking,” Wells said. “I called the coaches later and asked if they wanted some help. At that point I knew I wanted to help the kids and the staff, and have an opportunity to inspire them.”

“I knew who he was so it was cool to see him play,” junior quarterback Jackson Wagoner said. “We’ve heard stories and he always says high school was the best time and most fun so it’s good to hear just what it takes to get to that level. You know you can listen to them because they’ve done it before; you can’t second guess them.”

Wells has been the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator since. He also helps with the baseball team.

“He’s just knowledgeable and I think he loves all sports,” Anderson said. “He was dialed in on the playbook all off-season and the kids are starting to pick it up.

“Vernon is very involved with the school outside of athletics with all the activities going on. He pretty much lives here.”

The Cougars went to the regional round in 2015 and the state championship game in 2016.

They won the TAPPS Division IV state title last year, 14-0 over Magnolia Legacy Prep.

“It’s a natural fit here,” Anderson said. “He’s a competitor and once he commits to something, he’s going to be pretty good at it.”

Rapid Fire with Vernon Wells

Better at baseball or football: Probably baseball, the emotions of the two sports are completely different; baseball is more a finesse thing. I enjoyed both equally, but safety wise, baseball was the better choice

Favorite team you played with: Toronto; I grew up a Blue Jay. But being a Yankee was special. There’s one place you put on a uniform and there’s an expectation to win no matter who’s in the lineup.

Favorite teammate: Michael Young

Funniest teammate: Orlando Hudson

Favorite pitcher to hit: Mark Buehrle

Least favorite: Daniel Cabrera

Favorite player all-time: Ken Griffey, Jr.

Favorite players now: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Ramirez

Favorite stadium to play in: Old Yankee Stadium

Favorite MLB memory: Some of my favorites involved other people, but I did like hitting a walk-off against Mariano Rivera.

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