Both Lompoc High basketball teams had a local celebrity cheering from the LHS side when the Braves took on Cabrillo – one who got his taste of Lambeau Field toward the end of the 2018-19 NFL season.
Lavon Coleman was back in town to watch the Braves play inside Paisola Pavilion at Bryan Ayer Court. Not only did he sit inside the venue as a Braves football standout from 2009 to 2013, but shared his experiences with his former coaches, teammates and close friends about his newest occupation: Running back for the Green Bay Packers.
The LHS and University of Washington graduate spent halftime of both games chatting with his high school head coach Andrew Jones and some of his former teachers during his Brave years. He ended his evening by taking photos with his family that was clad in Packers attire and catching up with his old Lompoc pals.
“I came back to show everybody that this is my hometown,” Coleman proudly said with a smile.
Coleman found out three days before Christmas that his football career was going to get a promotion.
After getting released by the practice squads of the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, Coleman and many in the Lompoc Valley were left wondering if he was ever going to see the field and take in the roar of thousands of fans on Sundays.
In October, Coleman was given the opportunity to join the Packers’ practice squad. But then came Dec. 22, 2018, when Coleman heard these life-altering words:
He was being promoted to the Packers’ active roster.
Just like that, the Lompoc Valley produced its latest NFL running back for the first time since Napoleon Kaufman shared backfield duties with the Oakland Raiders from 1995 to 2000.
Coleman went from wearing No. 40 on the Texans to sporting No. 24 for the green and gold for the final two games of the season. He was on the field when the Packers won in overtime 44-38 against the New York Jets but fell 31-0 to the Detroit Lions at home.
Yet, the latter game gave Coleman the opportunity to take in the sights, sounds and energy of Lambeau – long considered one of the most historic venues in all of sports.
“It was beautiful,” Coleman said of Lambeau. “Just the historic background on it and being around Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers in general is a blessing. It’s one thing I’m thankful for everyday.”
One of Coleman’s proud supporters is LHS athletic director Claudia Terrones, who said “We’re really proud of him. He’s done a lot of growing up and our community and high school is really proud of him.”
And during his time with the Pack, Coleman quickly discovered that he wasn’t the only one with a Lompoc connection – as Rodgers’s father has Lompoc ties.
“It’s a funny thing and it’s a topic I bring up sooner or later,” Coleman said laughing.
But witnessing Rodgers’ work ethic first hand was definitely no laughing matter for Coleman, as he became immediately in awe of the Super Bowl XLV Most Valuable Player’s approach to the game.
“Honestly, he’s a really focused dude,” Coleman said. “Off the field, he’s one of the funniest guys I’ve seen. But on the field, he’s a real competitor. He’s one of those people that you’re happy that you’ve got a general at the helm to score with. He’s definitely a special dude and one of the greatest in the game.”
Coleman will soon have to adjust to a new regime near Lake Michigan, as Matt LaFleur was introduced as the new Packers head coach on Jan. 11.
“I haven’t talked to the head coach yet but in due time (I will). The greatest thing about having a new head coach is that everybody is coming in with a new clean slate,” Coleman said.
No matter what, Coleman says his attitude and approach for football will remain the same.
“The mindset at the end of the day is everything that I do is to outwork everybody the best way that I can that way, I can look back and say nobody worked harder than me,” Coleman said.
And is there a chance Coleman will execute the famed “Lambeau Leap” and jump into the end zone crowd soon? As past Packer players have done?
“You’re going to see me do it real soon. Believe me,” Coleman said, smiling.