Tom Shaneyfelt established a winning tradition as Clearwater’s girls basketball coach, guiding the program to eight final four appearances and four state championship games.
But in recent years he had a growing desire to see how his success would translate to boys basketball.
On Tuesday, he was officially given the opportunity.
Clearwater announced Shaneyfelt will coach the boys program.
“This has been on my bucket list for some time to coach boys basketball,” Shaneyfelt said. “I felt like it would happen once I retired and would have to work at a private school or something. When this came available, I knew I had to go for it.”
The prestige of the Tornadoes’ boys program was enough to persuade Shaneyfelt to end his 20-year tenure with a Clearwater girls basketball program he took to new heights.
The Tornadoes’ vacancy, created when Allen Carden stepped down last month after four seasons, drew 75 applicants who were looking to accept the challenge of trying to appease a demanding fan base.
Carden guided Clearwater to a state final appearance his first season in 2010 but failed to make the playoffs the past two seasons.
Most of the candidates were out-of-state. None of the current head basketball coaches in Pinellas County applied for the position.
Clearwater administrators narrowed the list to 12 finalists who were interviewed last week.
But the Tornadoes did not have to look far for their coach.
Shaneyfelt became an attractive option, not only for his resume, but because he was already in the building. Clearwater wanted a coach on campus and Shaneyfelt is a teacher at the school.
“Tom was a real strong candidate throughout the whole process,” Clearwater athletic director Kathy Biddle said. “He did well in his interview, he’s been a successful coach here and he has a lot of knowledge of the school and the program.”
Shaneyfelt coached the girls at Osceola for seven years (1986-92) before coming to Clearwater in 1993. He quickly turned the program into one of the best in the state. His 650 wins combined at both schools ranks in the top 20 in the state among boys or girls coaches. He already is inducted into Clearwater’s athletic hall of fame.
For the past few seasons, he also has coached his son, Christian, 11, in youth leagues. That started Shaneyfelt’s gravitation toward boys basketball.
“Life doesn’t always plan things out so perfectly,” Shaneyfelt said. “I thought this was my best shot to coach a program that’s so rich in talent, and so steeped in tradition. It was a tough thing to do, to leave the girls. But this was something I’ve always wanted to try.”
Shaneyfelt met with some of the players Tuesday. He said he will have a meeting with the community June 11 in the school’s auditorium to talk about what his plans are for the future of Clearwater basketball.
The hiring of Shaneyfelt means Clearwater now has to search for a girls basketball coach. Biddle said the girls position will be posted after Wednesday (due to graduation).
Bob Putnam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BobbyHomeTeam.