The Wizard At The Emerald City

By Jeremy McDonald

SALEM, Ore.–  With how West Salem High School is situated in the hills outside of Salem, it seemingly towers over the city up the hill along Orchard Meadows Road NW like the castle in The Wizard of Oz.

Fittingly, it does seem well that the wizard,  Head Coach Shawn Stanley, has been working his magic since taking over the Head Coaching reigns 13 years ago from Bo Yates.

Probably one of the most humbled people and coaches you’ll meet, his personality of ‘we’ not ‘me’ has been his vocal point he’s been trying to instill to his athlete’s year-in and year-out.

He draws from personal life on being a good father, a good teacher, a good husband, etc. To lead by example and think of other’s instead of yourself.

“I was thinking, being a dad, being a teacher, being a coach you lead by example and I know I’m not the only one like this but I think it’s really hard to get kids to constantly do things that you don’t do yourself.,” said Stanley on teaching the importance of leading by example. “So if I’m not humbled in what I’m doing and being mindful of all the help that I had coaching and all the great players that I’ve had, it’s hard to turn around and say, ‘hey kids don’t worry about yourself, be apart of the team.  Give yourself up to the team, don’t worry about individual accolades’.

“And so I try to model on what I want the kids to do and one of the life lessons I’ve tried to teach about being a dad, be a good dad you got to be humble.  You got to serve others, you got to do things your kids want or need to do way more often than you get to do what you want to do as a dad.”


He uses examples from his personal life as examples of being humbled while showcaseing it to the players around him.

Things like putting your kids needs ahead of your own in terms of thinking of others and not yourself such as if you want to go play golf, but your kids need you for something, golf or hanging out with your buddies are secondary compared to what your kids want.  The same can be true with being a good husband

“My wife and I during football season, she picks up a ton of the slack, she gets really busy at work football is over and it’s my turn,” said Stanley.  “So I think most importantly models what you need to be successful in life.”

Entering this season, Stanley’s coaching record stood at 96-38, four wins shy of 100 coaching wins.  He would achieved that elusive 100th win in Week 5 with a 48-7 win over North Salem on the road and got win number 101 the following week against West Albany with a 52-7 win over the Bulldogs.

And though he hasn’t had a lot of time to reflect on the accomplishment with the Titans in the middle of their Greater Valley Conference-Title run en route to the fourth-seed for the playoffs this season, the longtime West Salem coach remembers how far the program as come since the Yates-days where Stanley was a defensive coordinator in the early day’s of the school.

“First thing, going back, just being honest just not being humble I think people saying ‘you’ getting 100th win, it’s a program win and a coaches win, it’s a ‘we’,”  said Stanley, who too recived GVC Coach of the Year while Damien Rameriez got GVC assistant coach of the league honors as well.  “You know Bo Yates started the program, Bo Yates came into this program knowing it was going to be a challenge and had enough self-esteem that he knew he was going to come here and know there was going to be some lumps, but he knew he was going to get this thing started and he stepped away and really gave me an opportunity.

“So I thank him most of all and we’ve been fortunate enough to have some really good players through the years and a great community and great parents who raised these young men with character and turn them over to us and I’ve had great coaches, so it’s been great.”

Stanley talking to his team after a play during Monday’s practice (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

And Stanley too is drawing something he’s seen between when their football program started in 2002 when West first opened its door to the new Mountainside High School in Beaverton that open this year with their football program under coach John Mannion as Stanley reflects back further to when the program first started at West Sale

“We were talking the other day, we were talking about Mountainside High School where coach Mannion, they’re starting a program up there, no Varsity playing a JV only schedule,” starts Stanley.   “They threw us right into a Varsity schedule from Day 1 and not a Independent Varsity schedule we just jumped right…we took lumps, teams were nice not to score 100 points on us so to see that come full circle with all the hard work from a lot of people and then adding in some really good players along the way.  It’s been fun.

“I think it’s always fun to be at something from the grassroots and watch it grow rather than come in after it’s already the way it is and I go back to Coach Yates and the start he gave the program and gave me and some of these other coaches that were here and we just built on it from there and having coach Ramirez with me all the way along, it’s been obviously a great asset to me and I still think there’s still a lot of things that we can get better at.”

That fire in knowing that they can improve still drives this former padded warrior in helping the program in some way and that drive to continue to coach and lead these gentlemen that wear the Titan colors is still as strong as it has ever been.

And with the Generals of Grant coming south on Friday, the time for full reflection of this season, the accolades, the next series of wins to get to 150, 200 wins is not here or now.  The focus now is to continue to develop these young leaders while focusing on this upcoming game with Grant and going 1-0 against them and advance to the quarterfinal round next Friday.

“Hopefully we can get better and better in developing young men and developing their character and molding them into the Titan Way and the things we believe in and I’m excited about just being better in those things as I am the football and the X’s and O’s and coaching those guys.  In all honest with you, I’m thinking about trying to be 1-0 after Friday over a really talent Grant team and just taking it one-day at a time.

“I don’t know next year; five years you know later down the road I’ll worry about that.  Sit back after the season, sit back and reflect and not talking about being done but I’m hoping that this team has a ways to go this year and we got to be 1-0 after Friday night and then hit the reset button.  But for this point in the year, I think the kids and the coaches are really refreshed and ready to go hopefully to make a little run.”

The Titan Way.  The school on the hill that resembles almost like The Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz with their humbled Wizard guiding the way and teaching them the same beliefs and standards he believes in.

It goes beyond X’s and O’s and the now 105-win coach knows it goes beyond the W’s and L’s, it’s all about life lessons he’s teaching them.

Follow Jeremy McDonald on Twitter at @J_McDonald81 or like jmcdonaldmedia on Facebook!


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