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Despite cancer battle, Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman plans to “continue to do my job”

John Schlarman (Jeff Houchin Photo)


Kentucky offensive line coach John Schlarman never tried to look ahead after he was diagnosed with cancer last summer.

As a coach, he knew how to take things day to day rather than let worrying about the future “drive you crazy.” Not coaching was never an option for him because he needed to keep “normalcy” in his life not only for him but also for his wife, Lee Anne, and four children — three sons and one daughter.

“I am not going to crawl into a corner or stay at home and stay in bed. I am not going to do that if I can avoid that. I think that is good mentally to not let this thing affect my life to where I can’t do what I want to do,” Schlarman said. “That’s been really important.

“Responding to the medicine the way I have has been very beneficial. Coach (Mark Stoops) being very accommodating if I needed treatment or going back and forth to Houston to do that also really helped. I am doing a pill form of a new type of drug now, so it has been different. I have not had to do the IV and the chemo like I had to during the season. Going through that for 14 or 15 times and now getting to this, you really appreciate this because it is not quite as taxing on the body.”

Still, no matter what he faced, he kept a positive attitude that obviously rubbed off on players and coaches. Schlarman credits Bill Curry, his head coach at Kentucky, for helping put that positive mentality into his life. Same with his parents.

“Just growing up with two parents who worked hard their whole lives and never made excuses taught me a lot. It’s just kind of what I observed and saw my whole life. I didn’t know any better, or worse. I just try to always be positive,” he said. “The support system here has been unbelievable. Obviously with my family, my wife and all our friends but also here in the work place.

“I am just very fortunate for coach Stoops, coach (Eddie) Gran … everybody in this (football) building has been phenomenal. When you work with people like that and realize everybody has my back, it just makes you want to do better, do more, do whatever you can to help the program succeed. That’s all I did. I didn’t do anything special. I just did my job and plan to continue doing my job. That’s all I know how to do.”


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  1. Wow, what a inspirational story to read. It makes you appreciate life even more. I myself has. always been a positive person regardlessa when the tough gets going. Despite all the negative that goes on in this world the positive always out weights the negative.

    1. You are so right. Great story and a very good coach.

  2. Getting glimpses of Coach Schlarman’s struggles with cancer last year and the the support that was given by his fellow coaches and the team members themselves really put into perspective the word, “family” that is used so often about the UK football program now in place. It was like one giant care giver came into existence and we all witnessed a special football season last year as a result of it…lets all hope that the respect for human life and its dignity continues to uplift and inspire our young players. Go Cats and continue the fight Big John!

  3. I am really pulling for Coach Schlarman. That same tough mentality has been a trademark of his players. I sure do love the Big Nasties.
    Get well Coach. We’re rooting for you on and off the field.

    GO CATS !

  4. Great article Larry

    1. He is amazing

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