EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) — The coronavirus pandemic forced athletic programs across the nation to hit pause in early 2020. For the University of Texas at the Rio Grande Valley Track and Field coach Darren Flowers, that means more time with family and the pursuit of a former passion.
Flowers is no stranger to the music scene. After college, he began his career as an artist.
“I toured the country with a band, I was working with a producer at the time, I was living in Dallas,” said Flowers. But push came to shove, and bills took priority. “I just got to a point where I was like man I’m going to have to make some real money at some point.”
He’s been following a career as a college track coach ever since. Starting as a graduate assistant at West Texas A&M University in 2007, he worked his way up to a head coaching job, multiple Lone Star Conference titles, and topped it off leading the women’s team to the program’s first-ever NCAA Division II outdoor national championship.
He took over at UTRGV in 2017 and has had unprecedented success, with his student-athletes combining for 37 program record, 31 individual championships, 10 outdoor track and field NCAA regional qualifications, and two cross country NCAA Championships qualifications.
A whirlwind of a coaching career came to an abrupt halt along with the rest of the sports landscape when the pandemic hit in early 2020.
“I had been going so hard for so long, close to 12-13 years,” said Flowers. The new time at home led to picking up his old passion, right where he left off. “I was just hanging out with my family and I started picking up the guitar again. I just started recording songs in my house. I probably recorded up to 20 songs during our downtime,” a venture the pandemic proved possible.
“I don’t think I could have done it without it,” said Flowers of the COVID-19 shutdown. He records songs under a new stage name, ‘Ri Wolf,’ a play on his last name spelled in reverse. Wolf has songs set to release through the summer, where he plans to refocus his energy back on music while school is out for the summer.
“Music is kind of sitting back a little bit as we get more competitive,” said Flowers. UTRGV is set to host the Western Athletic Conference Championships May 13 – May 15. “I’m just going to keep playing and make sure I balance it with track and field and everything else I have going on in my life.”