Clearwater’s Shaneyfelt retires after 30 years
Clearwater boys basketball coach Tom Shaneyfelt officially announced his resignation Monday, ending a 30-year career that was spent mostly with the girls program at the school.
Shaneyfelt, who teaches drivers education at Clearwater, said in his resignation letter that he was leaving because he is in the final year of the DROP (Deferred Retirement Teaching Option) program, which requires teachers to retire within a certain timeframe after they sign up.
One of the area’s most successful coaches, Shaneyfelt had already been inducted into Clearwater’s athletic hall of fame and was inducted into the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches Court of Legends in December. He finished his career with 704 victories — 650 coming with the girls programs at Osceola and Clearwater.
“It would be difficult for me to extend (DROP) and coach in a public school next year,” Shaneyfelt said in his resignation letter. “More importantly, I have taken the time to think after this season’s end, and I know in my heart retiring from coaching is the best decision for me and my family. Thirty years of varsity coaching is enough.”
An Indiana native, Shaneyfelt started his coaching career with the girls program at Osceola (1986-92) before coming to Clearwater in 1993. He quickly turned the program into one of the best in the state, guiding the Tornadoes to eight final four appearances and four state championship games. His 650 wins combined at both schools in girls basketball rank as the best in Pinellas County and among the top 20 in the state.
With his career winding down, Shaneyfelt, 61, had a growing desire to see how his success would translate to boys basketball.
In 2013, he was given the opportunity to coach the Tornado boys. Shaneyfelt inherited a program that has gone through a mass exodus of players. In three seasons, he won 54 games, but couldn’t get Clearwater to the postseason.
“Knowing from the start it would likely be for just three short years (with the boys) my simple goals were to build a staff who could leave it in better shape than we found it, and create a solid foundation which could continue to be built upon,” Shaneyfelt said. “Personally, I simply tried to do the best I could to help us do the best we could with what we had.”
Shaneyfelt’s gravitation toward boys basketball started after coaching his son, Christian, in youth leagues. He leaves just as Christian is about to enter high school.
“It was unbelievably tough to have Tom retire,” Clearwater assistant coach Jason Franzen said. “I wanted him to coach at least one more year so he’d get an opportunity to coach Christian. But he just wants to be a dad.”
Shaneyfelt said his biggest accomplishment is the victory total, which averages to about 23 wins per season.
“This shows a consistency few programs accomplish,” he said. “This is not to say there aren’t many programs who accomplish this and more, and there are clearly many coaches who I hold in much higher regard than myself, especially those who not only win lots of games, but understand and strive for, in some cases better, much earlier, or more consistently in their careers than I did, the most important accomplishments.
“These include helping teach their players; how to be better and better young men and women; how to be good teammates and then lifelong friends.”
Franzen, a former head coach at Dunedin who joined Clearwater’s staff this season, said he already talked to the administrators about applying. There is no timetable for Shaneyfelt’s replacement, but the school would like to hire someone as soon as possible.