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Middle school counselor by day, wrestler by night

WISN Milwaukee logo WISN Milwaukee 5/19/2017
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The middle school counselor at West End School for boys is making a lasting impression on his students.

Cowann Owens is more than just their counselor; he's become part of their family.

Mr. Owens, as he's known to his students, started working at West End School about a year ago.

It's an academically rigorous boarding school, but for the boys who live there, it's much more.

"The neighborhood that I live in, it's not too good, and living here keeps me out of the streets and getting in trouble,” student Elijah Davis said.

Owens is a big part of that.

“Most of the stuff he gives us is good advice, and usually it helps us further ourselves,” student Cody Sampson said.

Owens also serves as a dorm dad for the school.

"What better situation to really immerse yourself and build rapport and to gain trust and to be able to have that opportunity to fully engage with the kids than to quite literally be their neighbor, to live with them?” Owens said.

He eats with them, tucks them into bed at night and wakes them up in the morning.

"We have 27 kids, 25 of the boys and our own two biological children,” Owens said.

Just like his own kids, he tells his students to dream big.

"I would be a hypocrite if I said, 'Follow your dreams, do what you want to do, always strive to be the best version of yourself, if I am not out here actively doing it,” Owens said.

When the sun goes down and the kids go to bed, Owens trades his button-down shirt and tie for spandex.

"He is like a big teddy bear, but when he gets in the ring he turns into a real bear,” Cody said.

In the ring he is known as c, pulling out his signature moves like the Zo Train, the "are you serious" leg drop and the power bomb.

"Your wrestling character, your gimmick, however you want to say it, is yourself turned up to 100, so it is still me, Big Zo and Cowann Owens, we are the same person but it is like just magnified,” Owens said.

It’s a juxtaposition that leaves many people in disbelief.

“They are like, 'But you are so nice, you know, I met you and you are nice, but then you came out of the curtains and you were yelling and screaming and beating that guy up and slamming that little guy around.' so you know, it is apples and oranges,” Owens said.

Even though his two passions couldn't be more different, he said he's a counselor for the same reasons he loves wrestling.

"To be able to help people feel, usually in a more positive way, whether I am the villain or the good guy,” Owens said.

His students think it's pretty cool.

"Will I make it to the WWE? I don't know. I definitely am not going to rule it out. I am going to bust my tail and I am going to keep on working, and if that happens and if I someday make a lot of money, I want to be able to give it back to West End School, but right now, if you don't have a dream, what’s the point of living?” Owens said.

He credits his success to his understanding boss and supportive wife.


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