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Jefferson's Lowery elected to Coaches Hall

February 19, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

SHENANDOAH JUNCTION, W.Va. -- As he closes in on the start of his 39th season as Jefferson High School's baseball coach, John Lowery has yet another honor to add to his distinguished résumé.

Lowery was recently elected to the Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He will be inducted in Tucson, Ariz., on Dec. 4.

"I'm honored, to say the least," Lowery said. "I think any award that comes from your peers like that is very meaningful."

No one can say Lowery hasn't earned it.

As the first and only head baseball coach in Jefferson's history, Lowery has compiled a record of 1,027 wins, 266 losses and three ties -- one of 10 high school baseball coaches ever to reach 1,000 wins. The Cougars have won nine state titles as well as 21 regional and 24 sectional crowns.

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"I'm just proud of the fact that over this period of time we've been able to stay consistent and maintain the interest level in the community and the administration within the school system," Lowery said. "I'm proud of the fact we've had a lot of kids come through who worked hard and went on to be successful as doctors, coaches and many other things. It's also kind of unique to say I've been involved with the program since its inception and watched it grow and have been a part of that.

"I think I was in the right place at the right time. I was around when the school opened and got the opportunity, and all the other pieces fell into place with the talent that came through. It's a good area for baseball and things just worked out."

Lowery said his success has little to do with knowing some elaborate secret -- "I don't think anything we do is a lot different from anyone else," he said -- and that it was more a matter of getting the players to dedicate themselves to the game and putting in the time needed to become better.

"We try to give them a good foundation with fundamentals and teach the approach they need with regard to practice," Lowery said. "The nature of the game is repetition and taking the time to build the skills. Baseball is a game that you have to play, and our schedules over the years reflect that. We try to play as much as the state association will allow us to, and we gear our practices to reflect game situations as much as possible so when we do see them, we know how to react to them."

Lowery is looking forward to the upcoming season, for two distinctly different reasons.

The Cougars had their 12-year sectional title streak snapped last season, losing to Hedgesville and eventual sectional and regional champ Martinsburg -- coached by John Lowery Jr.

Jefferson also will be playing to honor the memory of Andrew Rotruck, who was killed in an auto accident on Sept. 2, 2008, three months after graduating. Rotruck was a Herald-Mail All-Area First Team second baseman who hit .436 with 13 doubles and 33 RBIs as a senior.

"I know a lot of players within the program are looking forward to perpetuating his memory by going out and playing the game the way he did," Lowery said. "I think it shows that you have to enjoy your time and put the effort in while you can, because nothing is guaranteed."

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