Lifelong friends Payton Fowler, Kellan Gibson, and Grant Lowry pacing No. 1 Paris amidst historic season
We all remember the original “Big 3” from the Boston Celtics and even the dynamic combination of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh from the two-time champion Miami Heat. However, a local trio on the No. 1-ranked Paris Wildcats boys soccer team has been impactful inside of the 903 area code.
An unbreakable bond
Paris Wildcat seniors Payton Fowler, Kellan Gibson, and Grant Lowry are great teammates on the turf and even better friends off the field. The three friends’ close bond with one another coupled with their many years of collective playing experience have raised the Paris Wildcat boys soccer team to new heights through their experience, leadership, and chemistry on and off the field. Before Paris’ impressive 2021 season began, the team’s triple threat of players began kicking around the ball for as long as they can remember.
“We are all close together and have good chemistry together,” Payton said. “We work together every day and have known each other for a long time on and off the field.”
“We’ve known each other ever since we were babies — we’ve grown up together for what seems like forever,” Kellan said. “Me and Payton met each other in second grade and have been friends ever since then.”
Finding a common GOAL
The trio joined together in their earlier years of elementary school, which eventually formed a strong and cohesive foundation of striking, conditioning, and scoring goals for years to come.
“We’ve all been playing soccer since we played in 6U, which was during the earliest years of the Paris Soccer Association (PSA). It was what we always wanted to do,” Grant said. “We played other sports too, but we all just stuck with soccer because it is what we knew we were best at.”
Outside of their own connection, the three friends have been able to spread their togetherness across the entire team, which Payton and Kellan said has really helped both unify the roster and help the whole team forge an even stronger connection through their mutual love of soccer.
“I think that soccer was just something we all liked, and it was why we all wanted to do it initially,” Grant said. “The three of us have plenty of club teams together outside of high school so we played on some FC Dallas teams as well. This isn’t the only team we’ve been playing on, we’ve constantly been playing soccer together as long as we’ve all known each other.”
Soccer and friendship were constants in each of the three friends’ lives, and it even poured over into each of their parents becoming friends with one another.
“It was really just from school and Grant and I’s parents have known each other for a long time,” Kellan said. “Once we got to know Payton, our parents got to know his parents and we have all been friends since then.”
Bringing a significant impact on and off the field
The Wildcats were on pace for a strong season in 2020, Payton, Kellan, and Grant’s junior year. Clearly, Paris took it the fallout of the virus-shortened season heart as it has produced an even stronger season to this point. Paris (8-1, 1-0) is aiming for its seventh-consecutive district championship and currently sits atop the State rankings.
“With the covid shutdown last year, I feel as though we are hungrier than usual,” Payton said. “I think we can go all the way this year.”
For Paris, the championship aspirations are legitimate, to say the least, and Grant knows the historic importance this season holds for him and his Wildcat teammates.
“It would be cool to be the first because we’ve already accomplished a lot of firsts,” Grant said. “We were the first team in history to beat Kilgore last year and the first team in history to rank number one in the state. I think that being first is the coolest thing to take away from this because it’s something we can tell our people about.”
The star trio is hungry and motivated, and their energy has been infectious in creating new expectations for the program as a whole.
“I know when I first started here, I would talk to guys and, even though we’ve had all these good teams, I remember guys even joking about going to State in a funny way. Now, the attitude has changed — it’s an expectation,” Wildcats head soccer coach Clint Cobb said. “We haven’t been satisfied with several playoff performances knowing that we are the better team… These guys want it and talk about it with the team a lot, and the increased expectations have a lot to do with their presence in the program.”
Photo credit: Breanna Fowler, Adrienne Lowry, and Melissa Gibson