Brian Lowery always has been steadfastly dedicated to his job and, since he works in education, helping students achieve their dreams.
So, when he faced a medical issue while at work, naturally his initial focus wasn't on himself.
Lowery, who has been Westland's athletics supervisor since Aug. 1, was in a previous job as athletics director at Columbus South when he felt pressure and then a small pop in his head during a boys basketball game in December 2014. He had been battling headaches for four years, so he initially resisted leaving the game to seek treatment.
Now, whenever he must tackle a new challenge at Westland, the 41-year-old Lowery reminds himself of that night and the biggest challenge he has ever faced: a life-threatening brain aneurysm that required surgery. That keeps him grounded and allows him to focus on his student-athletes, who are his passion.
"What we do here for these kids, whenever it gets tough I always have to remind myself I've been through tougher things," Lowery said. "I've been through a lot (so I) always remind myself that no matter how tough things may get at times, I've ... been in a situation where if I've had the ability to make it through (the) nature (of something) as an aneurysm. Things that we control have to be easier."
Since he had been coping with headache issues, Lowery's first thought at the basketball game was to stay until it was over. After all, he wasn't just there to watch the action; he was working.
Lowery said Jeff Sheppard, his mentor who worked in student activities for Columbus City Schools, persuaded him to seek medical attention before the game ended, and he drove himself to Doctors Hospital near his home in Hilliard for treatment. He recalls stopping for gas before heading to the hospital.
At the hospital, Lowery said it took doctors only a few minutes to determine his diagnosis. The next morning, he had surgery at Riverside Methodist Hospital to remove the aneurysm.
"I feel good," Lowery said. "I take my job seriously, but it's taught me how to slow down. As an (athletics supervisor) in order ... to be effective, you have to live at your job. Your job ends up being part of your family. You have to learn you can't burden yourself with everything, though, which is what makes (athletics secretary) Natalie (Fraley) so outstanding."
Lowery was the athletics director at South for five years. He held the same role at Beechcroft for two years, beginning in 2017, before moving to Westland to replace Mike George, who held the position for four years. George replaced Greg Burke, who retired after 18 years.
"I just try to do my job and do my best," Lowery said. "I believe the people here have taken to me very well, but I let them make up their minds (about) who I am."
A big adjustment for Lowery in moving from Beechcroft to Westland was the size of the student body. He said there were about 600 students at Beechcroft compared to nearly 1,900 at Westland.
"Other than that, it's still AD work. It just gives me more kids to interact with, which I like," Lowery said. "There's (also) a challenge of more sports."
According to colleagues, Lowery instantly earned respect and admiration in the building.
"Brian has done a good job coming in this year, and communication is one of his stronger skills," principal James Miller said.
Lowery has emphasized having a strong, positive relationship with coaches and student-athletes.
"This is an outstanding culture of coaches and people," he said. "(There are) definitely great parents. This is a great diamond-in-the-rough kind of place. There's a bunch of great kids and great coaches. This is as great as anyone else.
"I want people to see the professionalism and what we do and the structure of how we do things. As that goes, the winning will come with it. I want to be a model athletic program."
Boys basketball coach Rob Hayes, who is beginning his third season, has enjoyed working with Lowery.
"I love his energy and I love his positivity," Hayes said. "The work that he is putting in to really try to enhance the basketball culture, he does it for all the programs. He's worked a lot to encourage coaches to get their kids to attend other games and build a community and a family feeling within the athletic department. I've loved working with him."
Lowery was familiar with Westland before taking his current job, having served as an assistant boys basketball coach in the 2009-10 season. He also was an assistant football coach at Hilliard Bradley in 2009 and 2010.
Since that health scare in 2014, Lowery has learned to cherish every day.
"I'm here," he said. "When people ask how I'm doing and I say 'I'm here,' you have to understand why I say I'm here because I'm appreciative that every day I'm here. It's nothing that I take for granted. If you ask me how am I doing and I say I'm here, that means a lot to me because that's a blessing to me. I almost died doing this job."