Original thinking has been a way of life for Seabreeze High School artistic football coach Mark Lewis.
“As a kid, I tended to gravitate toward things other people didn’t do,” he said. “My mom always allowed me to be me. She never told me what she wanted me to do with my life. She wanted me to follow my heart.
Lewis was a wide receiver for Seabreeze before going to Bethune-Cookman University. Feeling financial pressure to pay for college, he quit after two semesters and joined the Air Force. He served with the 5th Combat Communications Group and the 507th Tactical Air Control Center, which provided tactical communications support to ground troops fighting in Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
“There’s a patriot in me,” he said. “I’m proud of my membership in the US Air Force. I wouldn’t have devoted 12 years of my life if I hadn’t had the heart to be an aviator.
“One of the great things in my life is that every day I get called into coaching.”
MARK LEWIS, Seabreeze Receiver Coach
In 1992, Lewis was fresh out of the Air Force on incentive payout money, so he headed across the United States to pursue an acting career in Hollywood. He had some success as a commercial actor, but the work was inconsistent. At the insistence of his friend Joseph Cannon, he wrote some scripts and began to promote concerts in Los Angeles.
After five years, he decided he had had enough of Los Angeles and returned to his hometown – Daytona Beach.
“Pursuing an acting career was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Lewis said. “I was on the verge of madness when I left LA”
Lewis became a motor racing fan as a kid growing up so close to Daytona International Speedway. It seemed natural for him to apply for a job at the Speedway when he returned. In the summer of 1997, a position opened up in the marketing department when Nascar was promoting its Drive for Diversity program. With a little help from her mother’s best friend, former Daytona Beach Mayor Yvonne Scarlett-Golden, Lewis secured an interview with speedway president John Graham. He got the job.
After 15 years of employment, DIS downsized its marketing department and Lewis lost his job. He had already dabbled in digital art and decided to take a risk. He took two years to invest in his art. During this time, the contacts he had made while working with the Speedway began to request commissioned work. His first customer was Danny Stewart, owner and driver of the Historic Sportscar Racing team. He paid Lewis $500 to create a promotional piece of his car to hang above his garage. It took him two days to do it.
“Pursuing an acting career was by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was on the verge of madness when I left LA.
MARK LEWIS, owner of MLewis Motorsports Art and Seabreeze receiver trainer
“So I knew,” Lewis said. “The light came on. That’s what I expected. »
Requests for commemorative art for the events have taken off since then. Lewis has worked for the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring and events held at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Throughout his life and artistic endeavours, Lewis remained active in the sports world as an athlete and coach. He played intramural sports in the Air Force while coaching a team for over 30 years. He coached youth league football in Baldwin Hills, Calif., and became a receivers coach at Carson High School. During his two years of investing in his digital art, he coached the Port Orange Youth Football Association where his team won the conference championship two years in a row.
He thought he was done coaching after his tenure at the Halifax Academy coaching football and basketball, but a position opened up at his alma mater, Seabreeze High School. Head coach Pat Brown interviewed him over two years ago and knew he was a good fit for the team.
“One of the prerequisites for the guys on my coaching staff is that you have to really enjoy being a mentor figure for kids,” Brown said. “I knew he was that kind of person.”