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At West Branch and soon at Iowa, loyalty defines Jeffrey Bowie
IOWA CITY - Iowa football-bound defensive end Jeffrey Bowie has a tattoo on his forearm that reads 'Loyalty.”
He got it this year over spring break in Kansas City with his dad, Tom. It's not that there's a story there, the word just means a lot to him. Eventually, he hopes to get a whole sleeve, but this was his first step.
'He wanted a lion on his shoulder, but that was going to be a multiple-trip tattoo and they weren't able to get working on that,” Tom said.
Jeffrey isn't yet 18, which is why he had to go out of state with his dad to get it. It was his second father-son spring break trip. Last year, the two went to Milwaukee to see the Bucks play the Miami Heat, Jeffrey's favorite team, but the pandemic abruptly sidelined all sports. Instead, the two walked around an empty Milwaukee, indulging in the city's German cuisine.
He wasn't there to see the Bucks, but the Heat. He grew up watching LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in what was the beginning of an era of super teams. Most people follow players in the NBA, but he stuck with the team, even after the players left.
Jeffrey doesn't waiver. Much like his professional allegiances, he knew he wanted to be an Iowa Hawkeye, but he tried to give everyone a fair chance. He garnered interest from schools like Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State and Minnesota.
Once he's committed, he's in. He played his junior football season at West Branch with a partially torn labrum, and tried to play through basketball until he physically couldn't.
'During football, I would get knocked down a certain way and I couldn't move it for a little bit, but then after a couple of minutes, it'd be fine,” Jeffrey said. 'During the basketball game against Mid-Prairie, they pulled me out and wouldn't put me back in the second half. And we were losing, so I was really mad. When I got home, I tried to pick up a glass of water and my arm was just stuck.”
Luckily, Jeffrey's rehab went perfectly. He wasn't even tempted by a gym, since Blaze Fitness in West Liberty, the gym he trains at, was closed for a few months due to the pandemic.
Jeffrey is a meathead when it comes to the weight room. He started competitive powerlifting at age 12, traveling the country and breaking records everywhere he went. He doesn't even remember all of them. In addition, he's amassed a collection of medals from the Junior Olympics in shot put and discus, and that was all before high school.
'I started him lifting young because I was 6-foot-4 in eighth grade, but I weighed 135 pounds,” Tom said. 'I wanted to make sure that he did not. He was about 6-4, 200 pounds in eighth grade, so he didn't have to spend his high school training by catching up.”
Tom said Jeffrey started breaking records at the state level in sixth grade, where he put an 8-pound shot 35 feet. It was his first throw. Ever.
Jeffrey played all four years of football on varsity for the Bears, spending time on the offensive and defensive lines. He didn't like offensive tackle much, because the thrill comes from making defensive plays. In this past year's district championship game against Dyersville Beckman, the Trailblazers were threatening a game-winning score on the Bears' 20-yard line.
Jeffrey found the hole through the line and tackled the running back for a loss, sealing the win for the Bears. It was a year, he said, they hadn't won as many games, but it was a nice feeling to save the day.
West Branch head coach Butch Pedersen remembers many plays like that. He knew from the beginning Jeffrey would be a Division I player.
'I think he's just a diamond in the rough,” Pedersen said. 'Another thing that Jeff has is he's hungry, he is going to live in that weight room and he's going to eat the proper foods. A lot of kids will give you that talk, but he's going to show with action.”
When asked why he thinks Jeffrey got the loyalty tattoo, Tom said, 'I don't know. Must be an opinion he has of himself.”
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