This has been a difficult week for Sean Smith.
That’s because the Charlestown boys’ basketball coach, like so many others in Southern Indiana, has been dealing with the tragic loss of Phillip Bowsman, the long-time football coach and athletic director at West Washington High School.
Bowsman, 43, passed away Monday due to complications from a stroke he suffered during the Senators’ loss at Indianapolis Lutheran in a Class A semistate game last Friday.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the West Washington community,” Smith who spent four seasons (2014-18) as the Senators’ hoops coach, said earlier this week. “Me personally, and my family, we’re certainly hurting deeply for the loss of Coach Bowsman. He was a great coach and athletic director, but he was a tremendous person. That’s just a big loss for his family and his community.
“It’s one of those things you just can’t wrap your mind around. I’ve definitely been praying for them, praying for the family and the folks out there. I certainly wish I could be there with them to mourn and provide comfort. I hope that they know that they’re in my thoughts and prayers and I love them. It’s just going to be tough. You can’t replace a guy like Coach Bowsman. He did so much for that school and that community, he’s certainly an irreplaceable person in that community. My heart goes out to them, big-time. I’m definitely hurting for them from afar.”
Smith and his coaching staff showed how much Bowsman and the West Washington community were on their minds Tuesday night. They wore long-sleeve red shirts under their short-sleeve blue pullovers, to represent the Senators’ school colors, for their season-opener at New Washington. There was also a moment of silence for Bowsman prior to tip-off of the game.
Smith, however, wasn’t just a coach at West Washington. His father, Ron, was the long-time athletic director there before being succeeded by Bowsman.
“My dad’s taking it hard,” Smith said. “I know how tough the athletic director job is because I grew up when my dad did it. So I know how much he was doing, just for the A.D. stuff he was dealing with, and then you’re also coaching, I think he may have helped coach girls’ basketball too, he just was involved in so many things. He was the go-to guy out there for them. I know what he gave to that community. It’s really sad. It’s just a tremendous loss for West Washington. I know what he gave up for his family too.”
Bowsman is survived by Beth, his wife of 22 years, and their two children, Holden and Maddie. Funeral services will be held at noon Saturday at Mount Tabor Christian Church in Salem. Burial will follow at Mount Tabor Cemetery.
“My heart goes out to Beth, Holden and Maddie,” Smith said. “They’re a great family, great people, I just couldn’t imagine what they’re going through. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’m just very deeply sorry for their loss. … You can’t replace a guy like Phillip Bowsman.”