Good Sports: Intense Shoemaker with a winning legacy at his alma mater

Oran boys basketball coach instructs Ty Johnson (33) during the Eagles' 70-51 loss to Skyline in the Class 2 State Tournament at Hammonds Center in Springfield, Missouri, March 13, 2020. Langdon Scheeter (22) is in the background.
David Jenkins ~ Standard Democrat

Good Sports is a column featured weekly in the Southeast Missourian and on It is primarily designed to showcase people who have impacted the sporting life of Southeast Missouri, so that readers may get to know them more fully. Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Today: Joe Shoemaker, 45, head boys basketball coach and principal, Oran High School. Shoemaker has compiled a 321-137 (.701) in 16 years leading the hoops crew at two schools: Oran Eagles (2008-2020) and Advance Hornets (2004-2008). His 2016-17 Eagles team was the Class 2 state champion, while his 2018-19 squad was Class 2 runner-up.

His Oran teams have made the Final Four on four occasions. The Eagles have been district champions seven times and he notched a C2D3 championship with the Hornets once.

A 1993 Oran alumnus, he graduated from Southeast Missouri State in 1998. He is married to high school sweetheart, Theresa, and the couple has three sons. The oldest, Jacob, plays for Three Rivers College and is believed to be the Eaglesí all-time leading scorer and is a three-time All-State selection.

I saw you after a 10-point win at Scott City last December and if I hadnít known better, I would have thought Oran had been blown out.

I get pretty intense, Iíve been told, yes. I expect my teamís best effort on the court and when it doesnít happen, Iím not happy.

What drives you crazy as a coach?

Bad attitudes, lack of effort. Also, if weíve practiced something and (my players) still make an error.

You have been known to yell during games.

Letís put it this way: I raise my voice so others can hear. (laughs)

Whatís your coaching philosophy?

I like defense because ďDĒ wins championships. I like up-tempo basketball. We typically spread out the scoring. Weíre better when we share the ball. You can have an off night offensively but should never have one on defense.

What do you enjoy most about coaching?

The practices more than the games. Thereís no crowd at practice and we can get into the basics. Until I became principal (Christmas 2018), I was a physical education teacher in the district. I got to know these kids from kindergarten on up.

Youíve won over 70 percent of your games in 16 seasons at the helm of two schools. Whatís Joe Shoemakerís special sauce? What makes you a winner?

Itís the buy-in by players, parents and the community. Our kids are unselfish.

You wonít take any credit.

Iím just giving back to a community (Oran) who gave so much to me.

Letís talk about you as a high school player for the Eagles.

I was a point guard, I was okay, but wasnít a great shooter.

Do you have any mentors, people whose influence helped mold you as a coach?

Iíd start with Hall of Famer Jim Hall, who coached at Advance and Dexter. Detail-oriented and showed me the little things matter. Kent Mangels coached at the elementary level. He and I talk a lot after games. I admire him. Mitch Wood, another HOF guy, at Oran. He coaches baseball but I like his preparation and intensity.

Do you have any advice for someone entering the coaching profession?

Two things. Coach for the love of the game. Also, make sure your family is also committed. My wife comes to all the games, for instance.

What do you think of single-sport specialization in high school?

I donít like it. I ran track in addition to playing basketball at Oran. If you concentrate on one (sport), you miss out on so much, especially at a small school. You make more lifetime memories if you play multiple sports. Plus, in just one sport, you can overuse certain muscle groups.

Youíve got two more boys in your family to coach at Oran.

Yes, my middle boy, Samuel, is a rising junior and Iím already coaching him. My youngest, Elijah, will be a freshman in the fall.

What can basketball instill in a young person?

Discipline, first. Also, the game will show you the hours you need to devote to be successful. You wonít always win or play well. There will be disappointments in the game and in life. Not everything will go your way. The game can teach you how to handle defeat and be humble in victory.

COVID shut your team down in the playoffs. Whatís your thought about starting back up?

Our district isnít allowing us to do anything with our athletes yet and usually we do a lot in the summer. Iím no health expert but the safety of the kids must come first. My players tell me it will be a lot different for them if there is no crowd, if thatís what happens. Once the game starts, as a coach, the crowd doesnít impact me much.

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