One would think Bill Shaw’s hair would look the part of coaching lifer by now, considering he’s been on the job since 1981.
Shaw calls it great genes, what with his mother approaching 90 and healthy. There’s another reason, however, Shaw’s locks aren’t sporting various shades of gray or white.
“The thing I learned early on in my career is if you let everything in coaching bother you, you’d be dead in five years,” the third-year Williamsville North girls basketball coach said shortly after recording his 500th career victory. “You have to move on. You have to forget about it. … I can get really angry with them in practices and get on them, but 10 seconds later it’s forgotten and everything is fine. I think a lot of it is you can’t let the bad things get in the way of the enjoyment of the kids, the practice and games.”
Those thinking about joining the coaching ranks need to save that quote. Why?
That’s the secret for surviving and having success at the scholastic level. Patience and a willingness to work with young people to help them attain their goals within the framework of the team.
There are many coaches who do that well in Western New York, with Shaw perhaps at the head of the class.
“He hasn’t been one to highlight his own career,” said Williamsville East coach and Section VI chairman Chris Durr. “For him to be able to have success at Lockport for a long time and be able to bring that success to a new school in a new district with a new group of kids is impressive. … He really cares about girls basketball.”
Who knew he’d still be in the game nearly 35 years after taking a gig to coach the freshman team at Lockport?
It was at that time he first met then-girls varsity coach Pete Dickinson, who’d become his mentor and lifelong friend. Dickinson later joined Shaw’s coaching staff at Lockport after spending some time as an assistant coach at University at Buffalo and Niagara. He followed Shaw to North for a year before opting to take an assistant’s post closer to his Olcott home at Newfane.
“He probably taught me 90-95 percent of the basketball I know,” Shaw said. “He’s just an outstanding coach. The knowledge he has is unbelievable. There’s no way I would be anywhere close to the amount of wins I have right now if it wasn’t for him.”
Shaw landed his first varsity gig in 1984, as boys coach at Starpoint. After seven seasons of coaching the Spartans, leading them to three Niagara-Orleans League championships, he got bumped from the position by a Starpoint School District employee.
While one door slammed, another opened shortly thereafter for Shaw courtesy of Dickinson. Shaw, who continued teaching business in the Lockport School District while coaching at Starpoint, took over the Lady Lions after Dickinson after moved on to UB.
Shaw and basketball basically became synonymous with each other during his time patrolling the Lockport sideline. He guided the Lady Lions to a state title (1994) and 13 Section VI championships.
And he piled up the wins, something he’s continued to do at Williamsville North. Forty-five with the Spartans, who enter the final week of the regular season with a flawless 17-0 record – ranked No. 2 in The News’ Large School poll. Five hundred and counting for his career.
Impressive, but not as impressive as to why he’s still in the game.
“It’s a big part of my life,” Shaw said. “The most important thing to me is the relationships I’ve built over the years with the kids. The wins are great but the kids are what it’s all about. I do it because I love coaching the kids.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great kids over the years. A lot of talented kids … you have to thank them and the parents especially. … I’ll continue doing it as long as I enjoy it.”
So, what’s more impressive, the hair or the win total?
“Five hundred wins is an amazing, amazing accomplishment,” Durr replied with a laugh. “It’s two things. It means you’ve had a lot of success and you’ve been able to coach a long time. You don’t see many coaches in any sport coach for the amount of years he has. … He’s made a lot of good basketball players over the years.”
Dickson out as coach
Lancaster appointed Eric Rupp as football coach during a board meeting Monday.
He succeeds Chris Dickson, who led the Legends to a 6-3 record in 2015, reaching the Section VI semifinals.
Rupp may be taking the reins but it doesn’t seem like Dickson was ready to pass the torch to his offensive coordinator.
When asked why he wasn’t returning to coach Tuesday, Dickson said: “It wasn’t my decision to step aside.”
Lancaster Athletic Director Brian Wild did not return messages. Coaching appointments are usually on a year-to-year basis.
Dickson, who shared Class AA South Coach of the Year honors with Orchard Park’s Gene Tundo, guided Lancaster to a signature win over then-defending state Class AA champion Jamestown, as the Legends spoiled the Red Raiders’ home opener by handing them their first loss of the season. In that game, Lancaster rolled up more than 600 yards in offense.
The Legends’ offense set 10 team records, including most points in a season (327) with Rupp running that side of the ball.
Dickson, who grew up in Central New York, succeeded legendary coach Len Jankiewicz. In four seasons, Dickson posted a 15-20 record – including a 1-7 first season. He guided Lancaster to winning seasons in 2013 and 2015.
Dickson continues to coach modified lacrosse.
Add Lancaster seniors Parker Shetler and Aubrey Billittier to the list of those earning a chance to play sports at either the NCAA Division I or II level. Shetler will play soccer at St. Bonaventure, while Billittier will play women’s soccer at Division II Edinboro.