Lowman a key part of girls soccer in Ashland
ASHLAND — When coach E.B. Lowman II was attending Ashland’s Paul G. Blazer High School in the 1960s, soccer teams there were something for the distant future.
History at Blazer occurred in 1993 when Lowman went through the arduous process of organizing and starting a girls soccer team. Before 1993, some girls played on Ashland’s boys team.
Lowman was the only head coach the LadyCats ever had and he retired following the 2018 season with a career record of 309-213-40. He is third on Kentucky’s all-time wins list.
His teams played at Central Park and Putnam Stadium before Ashland built a soccer/track and field complex.
Lowman said that in the 1992-93 school year he and Russell High School’s former coach, Dr. Jack Ditty, were coaching unofficial girls teams.
“We played Russell once or twice a week, every week,” Lowman said. “Which at some point the girls did not like each other very much. That’s all we played.”
Starting a team wasn’t easy because Ashland’s female principal at the time wasn’t in favor of it, Lowman said. He asked what he could do to change her mind and was given a list of things.
Lowman went to the school board with the list and said he had everything except one thing.
“The one item I don’t have, a head coach,” he told the board. “I said if I need to coach in order for you to approve this program, then I will. And they said, ‘you’re hired.’”
What was intended to be a short stint as coach turned into more of a quarter century.
Determination might be in Lowman’s DNA. His father, Harry “King” Lowman, was a Louisville, Kentucky, orphan who became a teenage newspaper sports reporter. He eventually became Speaker of the House of the Kentucky State Legislature.
His father also played football for Ashland, and the school formerly known as Morehead State Teachers College.
Boyd County High School joined Ashland and Russell in fielding girls soccer teams in fall 1993. That year, the foundation was laid for soccer becoming a family affair, and a tradition for Lowman’s family. Two of the team’s stars from Lowman’s first seven years were his daughters, Kim and Sarah.
Kim Lowman Sutton was an all-state first team player as a senior. Sarah Lowman made the all-state first team three times and was on the second team once. Sarah Lowman is the former state record holder for career goals (153) and season goals (53).
Lowman’s son, E.B., played soccer for the Ashland Tomcats and was an assistant coach for the LadyCats. All three Lowman siblings played soccer for Transylvania University.
And then there’s Jody Lowman, an MVP soccer wife for the coach. They began dating as students at Blazer and she’s been the team’s statistician the last 19 years. She was a soccer mom cheering from the stands for seven years before that.
“Oh my gosh, Jody, she is just a support system for the team,” Ashland senior Emma Dowdy said. “Always makes us cookies for wins, always says not to get down on ourselves, always there to support us on the sideline.”
The Lowmans have a Christmas party for the team every year and a banquet for the players and their parents.
“He tried to make the most out of each of his players, not just on the field, but in life,” Jody Lowman said. “I like being with him and I like the girls, so it doesn’t seem like a hardship. I’ve enjoyed it.”
Lowman said coaching his daughters was easier than he anticipated. They probably got sick of playing for him, he said, especially Kim Lowman Sutton who rode to practices and games with her father until she was old enough to drive. She got to hear him all the time, he said.
Kim Lowman Sutton said her dad was more than a coach for all his players. He was also a mentor and father figure. She said there’s not one person she ever talked to who didn’t love playing for him.
“It was hard at times being a daughter and a player, but there was good separation between the two on the field,” Kim Lowman Sutton said. “It was a good bonding experience. I played Y (YMCA) soccer, and we had a girls team, and my mom actually coached that team. In the middle school I played on a boys team because there wasn’t a girls team.”
Lowman said he thought about retiring in 2017 if Ashland had a decent season, but it didn’t happen. Boyd County defeated Ashland three times in that season after beating the LadyCats only twice in the preceding 24 years he coached.