Headed in a new direction: Former Lake Central softball coach Sherman becomes La Porte assistant AD
As Jeff Sherman taught his last Math class and coached his final softball game this spring at Lake Central, he knew the finality of each moment, puncutation marks for 19 years of his career in one capacity and 13 in the other.
"It was already pretty well-known what was going down," Sherman said of his move to La Porte to be the assistant athletics director. "As that last class left, I stood in front of the room, I was like, OK, I'm going to take this all in. Losing your final game is no fun either. It's something I didn't want to be hard for the girls. I looked out that night and saw eight, 10 former players in the stands. I was absolutely blessed to have some amazing young ladies. We had a fair amount of success. It's hard to know I won't have those relationships anymore, but I'm excited to develop different kinds of relationships with kids."
There was no urgency to leave LC for Sherman, but after winning everything short of a state title, it was simply 'a natural time' for him to branch out in a new direction professionally.
"The thought of stopping teaching and coaching was pretty tough," said Sherman, who shared a heart-felt post about his time at L.C. on social media Wednesday. "I've done quite a bit, accomplished a lot on the coaching end, done a lot of great things in multiple sports. I'd started working with younger coaches and just thought maybe it was a pretty good time to try to do some other things."
The La Porte opportunity was particularly intruguing to Sherman since he's known incoming athletics director Steve Santana since Sherman was a freshman at Warsaw High School, playing baseball for Santana, a first-year teacher and coach in the mid-1990s.
"Steve was one of the things that drew me," Sherman said. "We go way back. It's pretty crazy to think about. Talk about poor him, having to deal with a 14-year old me. When I moved up in '03, I reached out to him. He'd someone I'd stay in touch with, then being in the DAC, I'd get to see him a multitude of times a year. I think the aspect of the Athletic Director-Assistant Athletic Director relationship is something that's not taken into account. You spend a lot of time together, you have to be able to get along, and we obviously do."
Santana likewise recognized the importance of office chemistry, having had it with the retiring Ed Gilliland.
"I got to know Jeff then, we kept track of each other, kept in touch," Santana said. "I wanted somebody I was going to get along well with who also knew the time commitment with the job. Jeff's another guy who works really hard. Being an assistant coach in football and baseball, then with softball and supervision, I knew that was something he would definitely understand. I'm excited to have him come in. He's going to fit really well."
Sherman had actually been offered a similar position at Warsaw last year, but turned it down.
"The housing market was terrible, we have a 5-year old, we jusyt didn't feel like it was a great time to be moving two hours away," Sherman said. "Somethimes, things happen for a reason. I think this is a better fit for me. Ed was a great A.D. to work with as an opposing coach. Their hospitality was amazing and Steve's going to do a phenomenal job. When I heard Ed was retiring, I reached out to Steve and said I think is something that would be pretty cool, and it just went from there."
In Sherman's first year at L.C., he was an asssistant for the state champion softball team. He spent the next five years on Todd Iwema's baseball staff before taking over the softball program. During his tenure, his teams went 303-76, claiming seven sectional and five regional titles and three state runner-up finishes. He earned district honors three times and was state Coach of the Year in 2021. Sherman was also instrumental in helping establish the Softball Coaches Association of Indiana.
"I'm excited to be working with multiple sports as opposed to the two I coached," Sherman said. "I got so bogged down, I could never really appreciate the other great things that were happening. Another thing I was drawn to was the dynamic. La Porte's not seen great turnover. I'm excited to be working with some young great coaches, Jordan Heckard, Airrence Shark. I'm happy things worked out with (football coach) Bob James. He's a phenomenal guy. They don't get much better than Scott Upp. He's a top-notch guy."
Sherman and his wife, Renee, have one child, Theo. He officially starts at La Porte next week.
"It'll be nice not having to make that long drive anymore," he said.
Jeff Sherman, pictured with his wife Renee, was the 2021 Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association Coach of the Year. Sherman was recently named the Assistant Athletics Director at La Porte.