In his first season as head coach for Jeffersontown High School baseball, Christopher Lawson Sr. examined the Chargersâ€™ past culture and decided it was time for a change.
J-Town now has six coaches on staff, and five of them are alumni. Coach Lawson says they now have a â€œgenuine care for how well this school does in sports and academics. We want it to be a community school again. We are trying to preach accountability and embrace the community again so it becomes the school it was in the â€™70s, â€™80s and â€™90s. We want to change that part of the culture where kids in the community want to come here and donâ€™t want to go to other high schools.â€
â€œCharge with prideâ€ has been the mantra since then. The new motto has spread through the community, enlightening business owners and J-Town alumni to embrace the new culture at the school.
â€œWe brought that motto back,â€ Lawson added. â€œWe want them to take pride. Youâ€™re only at the school for four years, but high school memories last for 70 or 80 years. We want the pride of the community and this school to be a part of these young menâ€™s lives for the rest of their lives.â€
In response, the players on the current roster have adopted this new culture and coaching philosophy with focus and accountability. Senior pitcher and third baseman Jacob Metry, nicknamed The Silent Assassin by how skillfully he takes care of business in the game, agrees that the coaching strategies have helped the Chargers to get off to a hot start of 8-5.
â€œIt has been really big,â€ he says. â€œJust going in and holding guys accountable as well as myself I think has been an easier transition to help out some of the younger guys who are just now coming in. I am also there to help give advice and share my experiences I have had over my four years here.â€
Metry is one of two Jacobs on the team and part of a two-headed monster on the mound. His ally is Jacob Morley, sophomore pitcher and shortstop. Coach Lawson labeled Morley as the â€œbulldog of the group,â€ in contrast to Metryâ€™s personality. â€œMorley is more of the bulldog in that he wants the ball, and he wants to be at the plate at the key time and he wants everybody to know it.â€
The team has relied heavily on their arms this year to get some wins. Metry has started the season with a 3-0 record on the mound with a 1.70 ERA. His batting average is .474 with 12 runs batted in. Morley has been spectacular himself posting a 2-1 record in pitching, 1.84 ERA, and on the offensive end batting .424 with 10 runs batted in.
Morley says he and Metry simply try to come up big for the team when they are depending on them in crucial moments, understanding the importance of reaching the goals they have now with this revamped culture.
â€œOur goal when we started in the winter was to win 20 games this year like we did last year. We want to make it back to Jim Patterson because last year, we lost in the regional semi-finals to North Bullitt, and we want to try to make it to state this year.â€
Much of the success of the Chargersâ€™ hot start is due to their pregame regimen. Before each game, the team will go to the left or right-field corner and pray together to get motivated and fired up for the game. Metry says, â€œIt gives us time to give all praise to God because he is the reason we are all here. He gives us the privilege to be able to play baseball.â€
In response to the pregame regimen, Metry says he has noticed, â€œWe look more relaxed as a team. We are all there for each other and make sure we have each otherâ€™s back.â€
Metry and Morley, who agree that they resemble Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw (both pitchers for the Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball) in their pitching, have not been elated simply by the teamâ€™s success on the field but also by the new atmosphere in the Charger dugout. Morley adds, â€œWe start with, â€˜Charge with pride.â€™ It helps us to be centered and focused on baseball.â€ VT