SAYRE — Devin Shaw has spent the last five years coaching basketball at Athens High School, but when the 2019-20 season rolls around, he will be heading back home.
Shaw has been hired as the next head coach of the Sayre High School boys basketball program — returning to the school where he graduated from and played for the Redskins from 2007 to 2010.
“Coming back now, it’s great. Being a Sayre person, you know what it’s like to be a Redskin. They always say when you’re in your high school, you bleed your colors, you bleed red and blue, and it’s kind of a true feeling,” said Shaw, who is taking over for Dave Gabriel.
Shaw was a volunteer assistant in his first year at Athens under head coach Cody White before taking over as the head junior varsity coach the next season. He was the head JV coach for two years under White and the last two under current AHS varsity coach Bob Woodward.
“(It helped me) tremendously,” said Shaw of his experience at Athens. “The first year when I was the volunteer assistant I had actually applied for the head (JV) job and didn’t get it. Thankfully knowing Cody, he and (former Athletic Director) Mr. (Denny) Thomas talked about it and said ‘we thought you did a good job in the interview and we’d like you to stay around and be a volunteer assistant. You can get some learning experience and help us out.’ Thankfully, I did that so then the next year I was able to get the head (JV) job.”
The job opening up at Sayre meant Shaw had a tough decision to make.
“Coach Woodward was great. It was really hard to leave Athens, with him being one of the biggest reasons. I learned so much from him and the knowledge that he has about the game is tremendous,” Shaw said.
The Sayre grad went into the interview with his alma mater with a plan.
“I knew I was just going to be myself and answer all the questions to the best of my ability,” Shaw said. “And if I got the job, then that’s what it is and, if not, then obviously somebody else was a better candidate.”
Sayre High School Principal Dayton Handrick believes Shaw is the right man for the job.
“I think he’s got the right blend of experience. He’s learned from some good coaches. He’s coached here in some other capacities for us. He’s a junior high baseball coach for us. He’s helped out with the football team,” said Handrick. “He is a Sayre guy, and I think he’s just happy to have his own program. I talked to coach Woodward at Athens and he’s really sorry to see him go, but we’re really happy to have him ... I know nobody is going to work harder than he will.”
The new Sayre head coach believes the Redskins will have strong numbers and plenty of talent next year.
“Coming into the season, I know pretty much all the guys from coaching them in other sports and then coaching against them in basketball. I think we have a lot of numbers. A couple of the open gyms, we’ve had 18 to 20 guys, so the numbers are going to be really good, and I think we have a lot of talent on this squad,” said Shaw.
Shaw realizes that any time a new coach comes in there can be some growing pains.
“The thing is just going to be them learning my system, feeling out the process of what I’m like as a head coach and what they’re use to, so they’ve got to feel me out,” Shaw said. “I’ve got the feel them out and see what they’re capable of, and I’ve got to put the best five guys on the court that are going to work together as a team.”
One thing that Shaw’s Redskins will focus on is working as a team.
“Team is the biggest thing. I’ve seen it from my coaching experience. It’s only been five years, but knowing that when guys play together, you’re so much more successful and it’s that much more fun when you’re playing (together),” Shaw said. “When you’re playing as individuals, things aren’t going so well, people put their heads down and things don’t happen the way that you want it to and you kind of lose the team. So trying to stay as a team, all one unit and being able to work together for one common goal and that’s success.”
Shaw knows there will probably be plenty of emotions flowing during his first game as a varsity coach — especially the first contest at home — but he also realizes he will have to push those aside.
“It’s going to be a lot of emotions. One, you’re obviously going to be excited coming into that first game. Obviously, a little nerves going in with it being (my) first varsity coaching job. The nerves of ‘Am I doing the right things? Are we prepared enough? Are we going to be ready?’” said Shaw.
“But it’s a fast-paced game. You really don’t have time to sit down and think. You just have to keep going and whatever hits you, you’ve got to keep rolling with the punches and figure out what you’re going to do and put your team in the best situation to win a game.”