Ware takes on Lions’ football team

Head coach John Ware talks to the football team after a practice April 13. This football season will be Ware´s first at Southern.

Head coach John Ware talks to the football team after a practice April 13. This football season will be Ware´s first at Southern.

Jeremiah Cook

On Dec. 13, 2003, the Missouri Southern Lions hired John Ware to fill the position of head football coach.

Ware came to the Lions from Truman State University in Kirksville, where he coached for 19 years. During his time there, he compiled a 49-32 record against teams in the MIAA conference, and a 54-44 record overall. Ware compiled seven winning seasons at TSU and left the school ranked third on its all-time games-won list and 12th in the MIAA in career victories, a feat that is impressive in the ultra-competitive MIAA.

“The MIAA is an extremely competitive conference,” Ware said. “It is arguably one of the best two or three best conferences in the country.”

The Ottumwa, Iowa, native attended Drake University in the early 1980s, where he received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. During his senior campaign at Drake, the football team compiled a 10-1 record, and Ware, an offensive lineman, was an athletic and academic All-American.

In high school, the all-state offensive lineman’s classmate, neighbor and football team’s back-up quarterback was Tom Arnold, now an actor in Hollywood.

After college, Ware took part in the 1981 Blue-Gray All-Star Classic and was a member of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers through four exhibition games, lasting until the final cuts were announced.

Ware began his coaching career in Kirksville as a graduate assistant, when he returned to college to obtain his master’s in psychology.

“I had a friend at what was at the time called Northeast Missouri State (now TSU), who was coaching, and I had an opportunity to get a graduate assistant job there,” Ware said.

“I taught in the exercise science division and also got into coaching.”

After two years as a graduate assistant, Ware became a full-time coach in 1986.

Ware said having coached in the same conference as Southern for several years, he has always been intrigued by the possibilities of the Lions’ football program.

“Whenever we played down here, I always felt that Southern was a program that had a world of potential,” Ware said. “It’s always been an intriguing place to me, and I have a fondness for the Southwest Missouri area.”

When he’s not coaching, Ware has several hobbies he enjoys taking part in. They range from reading to working out to collecting antiques with his wife, Melissa.

“I’ve become enamored with economics and the stock market and how it all works,” Ware said. “I also like antiques. My wife and I have a fondness for antiques, and we like to collect them.”

Ware wants people to know he is goal-oriented, and the Lions’ road back to the top won’t be traveled over night. But, the team will get there.

“I’m the kind of person that is very goal oriented,” Ware said. “I think that I have been successful in everything that I have undertaken to this point in my life, and I really appreciate the area around here. The people have been very hospitable and accepting.”