New head football coach Jarrett Laws is already getting to work with his squad with spring practice underway. (Staff Photo by Christopher Dunn)

Our Lady of Mercy was surely sad to see legendary head football coach Mike Earwood retire this year after six years at the school, but the excitement is building around his successor, Jarrett Laws.
Laws brings a wealth of coaching experience, mostly recently as the head coach at Griffin. The fit felt right as soon as he sat down with Mercy’s principal, Brian Newhall, and athletic director, Bill Schmitz.
“Within five minutes, we found out we were speaking the same language as far as how we felt about children, how we felt about building character, how we felt about doing things the right way,” said Laws. “I think the key fit the lock.”
Born and raised in Daytona Beach, Laws learned early on from his grandmother that he was expected to do what it takes to succeed in life, and he’s eager to pass that on to his new players. Football is another tool to earn a top-level education, and he is living proof.
“My grandmother always told us, you’re going to go to college, regardless of how you get there, but it’s a lot easier when you can go for free,” said Laws, who was an All-State athlete in football and basketball, earning a scholarship to play both at Wingate University. “For our young men here, we want to make sure they are academically viable to go to college first. There’s an opportunity there for them to parlay athletics into a scholarship. Why not try to teach them how to use what you have to the best of your ability to help your family.”
Laws didn’t always know his life’s path would lead him into coaching, but a chance encounter with a young player made everything click. While he was in college at the University of South Florida, he visited a local high school football practice and noticed a receiver continually running his routes wrong. Laws showed him the right way, and the player caught it on his next rep.
“He came back to me and said ‘Thanks, Coach,’” remembered Laws. “When he said ‘Coach,’ it lit something in me. I immediately changed my major and decided I wanted to go into education and become a coach.”
Laws knew he had found his calling.
“I think it was the best decision I could’ve possibly made,” he said. “Everybody isn’t meant to stand in the Sunday pulpit, but we all are given a charge. I feel like my charge was given to pay back what was given to me through athletics, to be able to teach young men how to be productive members of society.”
He’s already getting to work with the squad. Spring practice runs from May 2-13.
“We’re going to really concentrate on some basic fundamentals. We have a lot of teaching to do,” said Laws. “We’re encouraging the kids to trust the process and crawl before they walk.”
At the same time, he’s thrilled to be teaching so many kids that have already learned from one of the best, giving him a head start in building a winner.
“That’s the fortunate thing about being able to follow a legendary coach like Mike Earwood. You know when you come in that there’s a foundational setting,” he said. “All things considered, if we do things the right way and take care of things one day at a time, we can compete.”