Lely's J.J. Everage hired as first head football coach at Aubrey Rogers High School
Everage went 19-22 in four seasons leading Lely, making the postseason three times
Former Lely football coach J.J. Everage knew saying goodbye would be hard.
Leading the Trojans to three playoff appearances in four seasons, Everage was announced as the new head football coach at Aubrey Rogers High School, which is slated to open in the fall.
Everage will get to build the program his way, from the ground up. It's something that excites the 50-year-old who has been coaching for three decades.
Making the switch was something Everage discussed with his youngest daughter because he wanted to make sure she was OK with him making the switch to Aubrey Rogers, which will be located in North Naples.
"It's hard to explain the emotions," Everage said. "There wasn't any jumping up and down, I'm too old for that. My mind went to, what needs to be done immediately? It was how I'm going to tell my current players. The family and I have talked about it before. I have a young daughter, my youngest is going to be a junior. I talked to her, and she's changed schools a couple of times with me. If she wasn't on board with it, then we weren't going to do it.
"She gave me her blessing and decided. They're used to dad being a coach, and having to move about every five years or so."
Making the playoffs three times in four seasons is something Everage was proud of during his time leading the Trojans. He may have finished 19-22 in his four seasons with Lely, but he's proud of his track record of getting kids to play in college, which is something that has been consistent during his time coaching.
"I want to say thank you to the administration, Jen Bledsoe, Bill Mottola, the parents, the teachers at Lely High School," Everage said. "And most importantly, the players that I've coached over the past four years, and the memories that we created together.
"Without them, maybe I don't get this job, because the success we had was because of the players. It's been one heck of a ride these past four years, and these have been four of the best years of my coaching career."
With the Patriots set to compete as an FHSAA Independent next season, the success may not come immediately, but it's expected to with time. Everage hopes not playing in the postseason next year doesn't deter any potential players from enrolling at the school.
"These first couple of years, you're laying the foundation," Everage said. "If you're going to build a program the right way, you need to make sure everything's in place. It's not just equipment and jerseys, that's cool, but you have to have a good coaching staff that loves to coach football. They're in it for the long haul, so you have to lay the foundation that kids are going to be taught well and trained well.
"You have to get the community involved, you have to have good coaches, and you have to get the parents involved. One of the first things I need to do is establish a booster club for the parents. There's so many Xs and Os that will come later, but first and foremost, you need to get the players to come out and participate. They may not feel like they're playing for anything in the postseason, but every week, you're setting records."