Shoop tries to pass on life lessons to student-athletes
Josh Shoop, his older brother Aaron and younger sister Lindsay learned a tough lesson shortly after their father Les began coaching basketball at Knoch High School in 1982.
Their mother, Karen, was diagnosed with breast cancer and died two years later.
“We learned that life isn't necessarily fair, but at the same time, we learned that you can have these things happen to you, and you can still be successful in your life,” Josh Shoop said.
Shoop, the athletic director of Pine-Richland High School since July, points to his own experience when student-athletes are faced with adversity.
“I know kids who are going through really tough things, and I can sympathize with them, relate to them and hopefully help them,” he said.
Losing their mother brought the Shoops closer together and made them more determined to succeed on the basketball court.
“Sports became a great outlet for us, because when you're on the court or field, you can only focus on what is right in front of you,” Josh Shoop said.
Shoop, at 6 feet 5 inches tall, has been playing sports longer than he can remember, so it is only natural that he hopes his infant son will follow in his footsteps.
His wife, Angela, 28, gave birth to their first son, Benjamin Foster Shoop, on April 8.
“It's a tremendous experience, so I can't wait to get home to see them every day,” said Shoop, 40.
While the Shoops will be fine with whatever interests their son, it's hard to imagine he won't pick up the family's love of basketball.
“He already has enormous hands, so we think he'll take after his dad's height advantage,” Angela said.
Josh and Aaron Shoop and their half-brother Jordan, 25, helped their father win a fraction of his 299 victories at Knoch.
“I had my kids playing basketball as soon as they could walk,” said Les Shoop, 65, Josh's father.
“I think I probably enjoyed coaching them more than they did,” he said.
When Josh and Aaron, now 42, weren't on the same team, they competed with each other.
“We competed for everything from our mother's love to how much we could eat,” Josh Shoop said.
He didn't make his father's varsity team until his sophomore year, but he quickly excelled, scoring more than 1,200 points in three seasons.
He graduated from Knoch in 1991 and played at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where his dad played college basketball.
Transitioning to college wasn't easy.
“The biggest challenge, and I tell this to kids in all athletics, is you're going to go there as a freshman and see how demanding it is,” Shoop said.
Fast forward to New Year's Day 2003 after coaching basketball at Homer Center for five years. Shoop was suddenly Knoch's athletic director and his dad's boss.
Les Shoop retired in 2006, and Josh Shoop took over as the basketball team's head coach in 2010.
“You're naïve and you think you can do anything, but the last two years of being a coach and athletic director was a little more than what I think people should try to handle,” Josh Shoop said.
While Shoop enjoyed his dual roles at Knoch, he had Pine-Richland on his short list of places where he'd like to work. Angela Shoop helped him design his resume on their honeymoon.
“There were over 100 applicants, and I knew some of them that were great candidates and more experienced than me,” Josh Shoop said.
He immediately noticed the difference between being the athletic director at Pine-Richland and Knoch.
“There are more kids, more families and more facilities to maintain, but the great thing about being an athletic director is that it's like you're a part of every team,” he said.
Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
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