Shepas revamps City Schools athletics
By Greg Gulas
Last December, Rich Shepas called it a career after 12 seasons as Waynesburg University’s head football coach, knowing full well that he wanted to remain in athletics but needed the right opportunity and fit.
The chance to return to his hometown and serve as chief of physical development and athletics for Youngstown City Schools was just too good to pass up.
“I had a great run at Waynesburg and felt honored to accomplish what we did, both on and off the field,” Shepas told the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s weekly meeting at Avion Banquet Center. “I love the Mahoning Valley, recruited this area heavily while at Waynesburg and know the type of student-athletes produced by our city schools.
“I returned to the area in March, learned a lot over the next three months under former athletic director Ed Matey who was set to retire and it has been non-stop since taking over on July 1,” Shepas said. “ We’ve done quite a bit since summer, but there is so much more yet to get done. We continue to make great strides every day.”
One of Shepas’ first orders of business was to make a change with East High’s football coaching staff, then assist with Chaney High’s re-emergence on the athletic front which is set to begin in 2018-19.
“Changes were needed with our football staff at East and Brian Marrow was the one person and coach I felt was the right fit,” Shepas said. “He brought with him Chris Amill, former Cardinal Mooney defensive coordinator and former Liberty head coach Kevin Cyler.
“Our initial goal was to improve the quality of play and to develop an expectation for excellence,” Shepas said. “While our record this past season wasn’t what we had hoped it would be, Brian and his staff have us pointed in the right direction.”
Tanisha Franklin serves as the Golden Bears head girls basketball coach and Dennis Simmons leads the boys program. Jessica Gavin is the trainer and the stability that they have provided has pleased Shepas.
Adding former local basketball standout Tyra Grant as women’s player development at Chaney has also been well-received.
“This is kind of like a ‘back to the future’ environment,” Shepas said. “Our student-athletes see them in the hallways and they are very visible.
“We need to be where the kids are and I am very happy with that,” Shepas said.” Student and player development is very important and with our coaches and teachers in the building, that’s a big part of the equation.
“That area is where we have made the biggest impact the quickest. We want them to be mobile so that they can develop their programs and build relationships.”
Sports that Shepas is looking to add at Chaney High include boys and girls basketball, cross country, rugby and track and field, as well as baseball for the boys and softball for the girls.
Last week, Shepas also announced that the Golden Bears would be leaving the All-American Conference with East and Chaney set to compete as independents next year (East, however, will compete in football next fall in the AAC).
With enrollment being split between the two schools, Shepas felt it just wasn’t feasible to remain competitive if they remained in the league’s upper tier.
“We needed to do what we felt would be best for our student-athletes and the teams that we field so becoming independent was our best option,” Shepas said. “Schools are assigned a tier depending on their enrollment, but when affiliate schools wanted both teams to remain in the upper tier in football and basketball, we felt that it would be best to become independent.
“This gives the kids at both schools the best opportunity to compete as well as our programs to continue to grow.”