La PORTE — He's only had one official week of practice so far, plus the offseason program, but Jeremy Lowery has already left an imprint on his players.
The new La Porte football head coach has taken a hands-on approach with everything he does, stressing the significance of energy and doing everything with a purpose.
“He's really involved with his athletes,” senior Matt Neff said. “He really tries to be a part of their lives and he really gets involved. Like in the weight room, he'll be pushing them. He'll be right next to a guy if he's benching or squatting and he'll be right in their face, talking to them and encouraging them.”
Senior Justin Forker noted that Lowery makes the daily grind of practices and weightlifting rewarding and enjoyable.
“He pushes us,” Forker said. “He makes us like his own son personally. He makes us want to be here every day, and it's fun.”
Lowery, a 1991 Penn graduate, served as Paoli's head coach the last two seasons. He inherited the program from Dave Sharpe, who was the Slicers’ head coach the last four campaigns.
Sharpe resigned in November so he and his wife, Kristen, and their two daughters could move to Indianapolis to be closer to Riley Hospital for Children for the Jacob Sharpe Foundation. Jacob, the Sharpes' infant son, died last June from fetal dural sinus thrombosis in the brain.
While Sharpe had success at La Porte, Lowery is looking to maintain that and hopefully improve it.
So what’s different with Lowery compared with Sharpe?
“The way he wants to bring the team together,” junior Robbie Kiner said. “Last year, coach Sharpe was focused on getting prepared on offense and defense, so we were separated more often so we could solely focus on our positions. But coach Lowery wants us to be prepared for whatever's thrown at us.”
Kiner added that both Sharpe and Lowery have a passion for football, they want their players to be their best and take the team far.
“I don't think we reached our full potential that we had last year,” Kiner said. “But this year we're really starting to access it, day by day.”
Isaac Alexander has experienced first-hand Lowery's zest for football and mentioned that spirit is valuable during long, laborious practices.
“I like his energy most about him as a coach and his love of the game,” Alexander said. “He comes out here hyped every day.
"During camp, since it's so long with two-a-days, he has a ton of energy. Coming out here with three-hour practices, he's always out here yelling and screaming."
Forker has noticed the increase in the energy level as well, noting the offense is slightly more diverse now.
"There's more energy," he said. "He has a little bit of a different offense. He likes to pass more."
So what's similar with Sharpe and Lowery?
"They both really care about football and they both really love the team," Neff said. "They really both wanted to win games and they both try their hardest and give their best to the team."
La Porte hosts a scrimmage against Plymouth at 6 p.m. Friday.
It opens the season with county nemesis New Prairie at 7 p.m. on August 23 at Kiwanis Field.
First, however, the Slicer players have to get adjusted to their new coach and get a feel for his coaching style and methods.
Everything seems to be running smoothly.
"It's very enjoyable to me to see our kids excited,” Lowery said. “Our kids are very excited to play football. They've bought in. They're understanding the way we want to practice. They understand the expectations as far as how we're going to run our practices each day, the energy level we expect out of them, the preparation we expect out of them. It's fun when you see them figure it out and you see them having fun.”
Kiner agreed with his coach about the transition.
“It's been great,” Kiner said. “The team's had a lot more energy than last year. We're just prepared to get ready and start hitting on Friday nights.”