St. Thomas will play the first men’s football home game on Monday-this is not only an important moment for Tommy, but also for the sport in Minnesota.
St. Thomas coach Jon Lowery will focus on the micro-factors of winning the first win of the season after starting 0-4. But this Apple Valley native is now in his 10th season at the helm of Tommies, and he also looks at the potential impact of adding another key step to the player development ladder from a macro perspective.
“For young people and boys in the state, being able to have I-level programs, I think it’s valuable on many levels, kids can now come to watch I-level football, they can aspire to be in their hometown,” Lowery, who played at Ohio State University, said. “Minnesota United is a huge addition to the football world, now you have added level 1 (men’s) football. It’s really exciting.”
MNUFC Chief Football Officer Manny Lagos (Manny Lagos) will participate in the celebration before the St. Thomas game, toss a coin and present the Loons jersey to the Tommy team.
“This is a St. Thomas project, but people know it much better,” Lowery said. “This is part of Sao Paulo. It is part of Minnesota. It is part of the football community. In Sao Paulo and Minnesota, there is no better football ambassador than the Lagos family.”
With St. Thomas jumping out of level III, Lowery’s main focus is to lay the foundation for the program from its culture.
They were full at the beginning of the season and were not used to losing. Lowery is the DIII National Coach of the Year in 2016. He has won 82% of the games in the past four seasons and is ranked nationally every year. During this time, their overall record was 73-12-8, and their record in MIAC was 41-5-4.
St. Thomas must improve the level of the roster through scholarship players. They are now providing some help to the players, and in the next few years, the number of scholarships will increase to stay competitive in the top league.
“This will take more time because this is the accelerated progress of our plan, and we must treat the players participating in the program fairly. Some people have been with us for five years in COVID,” Lowery said. “Among them Some of the players are transitioning from level III players to level I players. Some of the players we have introduced (through the transfer portal) have level I experience, and some of the recruits we have introduced have level I capabilities.”
Tommy’s roster is a mixture of these players. The three outstanding players are the fifth-year captain center back Halvor Houg from Oslo, Norway: Junior midfielder Stu Sain, a native of Plymouth, Minnesota, and a native Wayzata high school graduate who transferred home from Hartford DI University; Wisconsin May Kuhn’s talented guard Charlie Holden.
“When we talk about these three barrels, those are the three people I am satisfied with right now, and some others,” Lowery said. Of his 27 list, 13 are from Minnesota and 6 are from Wisconsin.
Tommies will play in South Field at the corner of Cretin and Grand. This is a turf facility shared with softball teams and can accommodate approximately 800 people. Lagos and Tony Sanneh will jump the fence and play pickup games on this field. Before starting their careers in MLS and abroad, they were in high school and college careers at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
With Monday’s game, Tommy is closing the gap in this sport in Minnesota.