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. — Image courtesy of Caroline Sorensen

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.

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.

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