Banner Journalism
The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

More Than a Coach: Saquan Maxwell Inspires Teens with PUSH Program

Caroline Sorensen
GAITHERSBURG, MD, MAY 10, 2024 – Coach Saquan Maxwell gives midfielder Riyadh Assani words of encouragement as he comes off of the field during the Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse regional semifinals.

When he was a Wilde Lake student, Saquan Maxwell used a four-letter word to help him persevere through high school and beyond: PUSH. 

Now, as a Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse Coach and a part of Wilde Lake admin support staff, Coach Maxwell uses the motto “Persevere Until Success Happens (PUSH)” to inspire current teens in the same way the motto inspired him. 

Coach Maxwell is the executive director of the PUSH Program, which is a program dedicated to “structuring the minds of our youth to encourage and assist them in becoming their best selves,” according to The PUSH Network Instagram. Every Wednesday and Thursday at the Harper’s Choice Athletic Club, Coach Maxwell hosts three-hour long sessions where free food, career planning, academic assistance, and sports training are provided to youth ranging from 6th to 12th grade. 

Coach Maxwell was inspired to start the PUSH Program from his tough experiences as a teen. In 8th grade, he was kicked out of his Baltimore City school because he was skipping school.

 He credits his sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Josh Michael, for helping him through this difficult time. “He saw a lot in me that I didn’t see in myself,” said Coach Maxwell.

Mr. Michael could see that Coach Maxwell was in need. So, Coach Maxwell was offered a space in Mr. Michael’s mom’s home in Howard County. 

Coach Maxwell took him up on this offer and moved in with Mr. Michael’s mom. After arriving in Howard County, Coach Maxwell explored options for high schools. He said no school stood out to him more than Wilde Lake. Coach Maxwell says that he immediately knew he wanted to be a part of the Wilde Lake environment after his visit with former principal Mr. James Lemon.

However, Coach Maxwell’s first year at Wilde Lake was less than great, he says. Coach Maxwell would make regular bus trips to Baltimore City to visit his old friends because he felt out of place.

“My first year was terrible. I didn’t talk to anyone, and I didn’t interact with anyone,” he said. 

To help him get through this rough year, Coach Maxwell would write his PUSH motto on his notebooks and papers in class. 

“I used to struggle with friendships, so I would tell myself this motto everyday. It was just a model of life for me. It was a mental boost,” he said.

COLUMBIA, MD, APRIL 23, 2024 – Wilde Lake alum Saquan Maxwell, Darryl Jeffries, and Jahlil Jarrett give a presentation on Wilde Lake’s core values, including communication. Maxwell leads a game of telephone with the students in the assembly. (Caroline Sorensen)

Coach Maxwell’s motto helped him succeed at the Lake. He was able to find where he belonged as he PUSHed through high school, and in the end, he served as a student speaker at his graduation ceremony in 2017. 

During his speech, Coach Maxwell breaks into tears as he admits that he “was taught to spot police cars before he was taught how to spell his own name.” He says he was always told as a teen that he would never graduate high school, which made his Wilde Lake graduation even more special. Coach Maxwell receives a standing ovation as he says, with a smile on his face, that his graduation from the Lake is a celebration of the fact that he proved his haters wrong. 

Alongside his PUSH motto, Coach Maxwell says lacrosse helped him persevere through his difficult teenage years. Coach Maxwell says lacrosse means everything to him, as it saved his life when he was younger. 

“A couple of my close friends were gunned down [shot] while I was playing lacrosse,” Coach Maxwell said. If Coach Maxwell had not been playing lacrosse, he could have been severely hurt or even killed. 

Inspired by his life-changing experience, Coach Maxwell started his first coaching job at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Baltimore, where he used his PUSH motto to motivate and boost his players.

While at Booker T. Washington, he transformed his PUSH motto into a program focusing on youth. He says he realized he has a passion for helping others.

“I know a lot of students don’t know how to speak on what they need help with,” he said. “When I was a teen, I wouldn’t go to a teacher and [talk about my feelings], so I wanted to create a space where students can speak on how they’re feeling.” 

Coach Maxwell’s goal for his program is to make his students feel like they always have someone to talk to when they need it. He says he gets to watch children transform into the best versions of themselves.

“I get to care for children week after week and they turn into a whole different person. I get to watch the kids progress and turn into the people that everyone knows they can be,” he said.

He says that this is one of the most fulfilling parts of the PUSH Program. “It makes me feel better that I have offered a space for a child to find themself,” Coach Maxwell said. 

Coach Maxwell carries this passion from the program onto the field. According to his lacrosse players like junior midfielder Mason Brown, Coach Maxwell’s passion for others is clear during lacrosse practices.

“He really wants to be there, he gives 100% effort, and we all reciprocate the energy he gives off,” said Junior Mason Brown. He says Coach Maxwell’s passion and effort better connect Maxwell to his players on the team. 

Senior defender Elijah Dean says that Coach Maxwell’s attitude makes his players feel more confident.

“He is a coach that puts confidence in his players,” said Elijah. 

Outside of coaching, Coach Maxwell impacts the lives of students within the school building as well, as principal Ms. Marcy Leonard says he “represents Wilde Lake spirit in all the best ways.” 

“He serves as a mentor to young people inside and outside the school,” she said. “He has high expectations for our students, and he provides high support to help students reach those expectations.” 

Coach Maxwell hopes that his impact does not stop at the Wilde Lake community. “I want kids to be in other states [and say that they] want to be a part of this program,” he said. “I hope I am a long lasting memory.”

As Coach Maxwell continues to support teens through his PUSH Program, he makes his 18 year old self proud, who knew during his graduation speech that he is not “just a kid from west Baltimore,” but so much more.

View Comments (3)
Donate to The Paw Print
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Wilde Lake High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Paw Print
Our Goal

Comments (3)

Start the conversation. The Paw Print staff has the right to delete and/or edit any submissions.
All The Paw Print Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Laura CometaMay 17, 2024 at 6:57 am

    Great article! Thanks for taking the time to research and write this!

  • Tanaja JohnsonMay 16, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    Beautifully written. Saquan you are a true inspiration to us all. Thank you for all you do and will do for our youth! <3

  • Debbie NixMay 16, 2024 at 11:59 am

    This community is richer for having people like Coach Maxell helping teens to spark the light inside of them! Thank you, from this proud WLHS alum. #commUNITY