For 20 years, Tom Shaneyfelt paced the sideline inside Clearwater’s gymnasium, bellowing instructions to his girls basketball players.
On Tuesday, Shaneyfelt maneuvered through the aisles of the school’s auditorium, glad-handing members of the community as he laid out plans for his new job as boys basketball coach.
Shaneyfelt, hired last week to take over the Tornadoes’ boys program, unveiled his summer workout plan and the direction he wanted to take the boys.
“This isn’t going to be an overnight thing,” Shaneyfelt said. “We’re going to try to build this thing one day at a time. And to do that I’m going to need the help of the alumni and the community.”
Most in the audience already knew about Shaneyfelt’s credentials, about his uncommon preparation and understanding of the game, as well as his ability to teach. After all, Shaneyfelt has won 650 games on the girls side and took Clearwater’s program to eight final four appearances and four state championship games.
The vision and intensity that Shaneyfelt had as the girls coach are the same qualities he is working to instill into his new team.
A week into the job, Shaneyfelt already is in overdrive. The team is working four to five times a week with an emphasis on training rather than playing games. Former players and current NBA stars also have shown up at practices.
On Monday, former Clearwater and FSU standout Luke Loucks worked out with the team. On Tuesday, Oklahoma City guard Kevin Martin, who lives in Clearwater, talked to players.
Martin’s appearance was set up by David Thorpe, executive director of the Pro Training Center in Clearwater. Shaneyfelt asked Thorpe, who trains college and pro players, to help his players with state-of-the-art workouts.
“I’ve known Tom for years and our kids play basketball together,” Thorpe said. “The great thing about Tom is he has this great record and all these wins with the girls, yet he is still so humble. He still is willing to learn and ask for help when it comes to training. And I’ll try to help in any way that I can.”
Shaneyfelt said he wanted to have his players attend a team camp and have about a dozen scrimmages.
“I want to use the summer for development,” Shaneyfelt said. “That’s where David came in. I have a ton of respect for what he does. He’s the best in the world at it, and it’s a godsend to have him right in our own backyard.
“I know my strengths, which are game preparation, adjustments, analysis, those kind of things. But I want to stay on the cutting edge when it comes to training. David can really help with that.”
Shaneyfelt also has asked Erin Fitzgerald, a teacher at the school, to become an academic advisor for the boys.
The changes to the program went over well with those in the audience.
“I’ve thought all along that Tom was not just a good hire, he was a great hire,” said Lincoln Loucks, father of Luke and Emma, who both played basketball at the school.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Shaneyfelt is getting players to stay. In the past three seasons, 13 players have transferred to other schools.
“Within six months I want people to say Clearwater would be a great place to play basketball,” Shaneyfelt said. “Once they're here, I want them to say they loved it and were proud to play for the program. That’s the biggest goal right now.”