A change of direction



Why would a man who?s been out of coaching five years uproot his family to coach at his alma mater?s rival school?

?That can only be described, I think, as a God thing,? said Shawn Reed, the first-year coach of the Tabor College women?s basketball team.

Reed helped at Sterling College for 13 years, serving as assistant coach as a student, coaching the junior varsity three years and spending nine years as a full-time assistant coach, sports information director and assistant athletic director. He also taught and did fundraising.

But between coaching and teaching, Reed said, he never got to see his wife, Miranda, and two young children. So, he went full-time teaching at Sterling and stepped out of coaching.

?I hated to get out,? Reed said. ?I?really missed it.?

This past spring Reed started looking at athletic director positions at larger schools. In the midst of that, Rusty Allen, Tabor?s athletic director, approached Reed about taking over the women?s program.

At first Reed was hesitant, because while coaching at Sterling he had so little time for his family. But two factors played a big part in winning him over: teaching only one class, which allows him to take his kids to school, and that Tabor has two practice gyms.

?Being able to practice in the afternoon allows me a couple nights at home where I can spend time with my family,? he said. ?So the fact we had two places where we could practice, that was a big part of the reason I took this job.?

As challenging as it was to contemplate going back into the intense arena of coaching, Reed said it wasn?t the most difficult aspect of accepting the job.


?I?d say the hardest thing for me was not necessarily getting back into coaching, but leaving the place where I?d lived my whole life,? Reed said. ?I?ve gone to the same church my whole life, which we still attend.

?That was the tough thing.?

Reed had deep roots both in the Sterling community, where he served on the school board, and at Sterling College.

He is a fourth-generation graduate of Sterling, he met his wife there, his father still works at Sterling after 38 years and his brother-in-law is the Sterling track coach.

But Reed said support from the Hillsboro community has been wonderful, citing an example when a neighbor dropped by to encourage him after a disappointing Bluejay loss.

?That means a lot, when people do that,? Reed said. ?You?re not going to get that in every community. I think that shows Hillsboro is a special place.?

Reed said his kids, Tristan, 9, Makenna, 7, and Maren, 3, love the school system and seem to be settling in well.

?I?ve just been so happy to be here because I love it here,? Reed said. ?It?s a great place. I?ve felt really welcomed.?

Reed also said he has received a great deal of support from Tabor College faculty, with Allen stopping in for brainstorming sessions and men?s basketball coach Micah Ratzlaff helping him get back in the groove of coaching.

?I couldn?t have any more support than what I have,? Reed said. ?I really am thankful.?

Reed has needed that support this winter. He inherited a young women?s basketball team that struggled last year and has had rough times to begin this season as well.

?Early this year we?ve struggled, and that?s to be expected,? Reed said. ?We?re going to have some bumps in the road, but we just need to stick together and I think we?re going to be OK.?

Reed said his coaching philosophy centers on a single phrase: ?What are you doing to make us better??

The phrase is written on the bulletin board in his office and he brings it up among his assistants and team.

?There?s nobody who wants this program to be better more than me,? Reed said. ?I really think that?s the key to success. It?s not wins and losses. Those will come if you get better, if you strive every day to be better at what you?re doing.?

But for Reed, the most rewarding aspect of coaching is the relationships built during the process.

For him it incudes, ?being a part of a team, trying to work toward the same goals and objectives, going through highs and lows together and trying to mold and build something over a period of time.?

Reed said there?s nothing like it in any other field. In teaching, he said, you have students in the classroom and then they leave. But in coaching, you are around your players all the time.

?You spend so much time together that the team is like my family,? he said. ?They?ve been over to my house, my kids are around. They?re like a part of my family.?

Reed isn?t merely content with having his players be a part of his family. He wants them to be a part of families in the Hillsboro community as well.

He would like to start a foster parent program, where families in the community ?adopt? one of his players and build a relationship with them.

?It?s a place to go eat a home-cooked meal, be in a home every now and then?even just once a month,? Reed said. ?I?ve seen some really special relationships develop.?

Reed himself has several foster kids from his time at Sterling, where they had a similar program. He said they still keep in touch, and his kids ask about them.

Families with children would be particularly nice, he said, as students often miss that interaction while away from home. He said the proposed program would be especially valuable for his out-of-state players, including two women from Arizona.

?I know that takes a level of trust, letting a strange college student into your home and around your kids,? Reed said. ?But I?m not going to bring someone here who?s not going to be around my own kids.?

As with the women?s basketball team, the foster player program may take some time to develop, and it may encounter difficulties. But Reed is determined to see it through.

?As rough as this is, I?m still so glad I?m doing it,? Reed said. ?I feel called back into coaching, and it?s great to have an opportunity.?

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