William and Mary assistant coach Austin Shaver says that he got serious about coaching when he was in college.
But the Tribe’s head coach, Tony Shaver, knows his son always had the bug.
Shaver can reflect back to when he was head coach of Hampden-Sydney College and his three young sons would race to his practice sessions after school.
While he coached, all of his sons and their friends would play pick-up basketball on the far side of the gym – all except Austin.
“He would just kind of watch things,” says Shaver. “And he would really ask questions about it.”
Fast-forward to now and father and son are on the same bench, enjoying personal accolades, the growth of their team and of course the time spent together.
“It’s a real thrill and blessing for me to have a chance to watch him grow as a coach and see his input,” says Shaver. “It’s really, pretty neat.”
Austin has certainly paid his dues. As a senior at University of Virginia, he coached at both a high school and an AAU team. He also served as a graduate assistant at VCU under coach Anthony Grant and subsequently worked as an assistant coach at Hampden-Sydney.
“When you’re in good situations, like Hampden-Sydney, where my father was and William & Mary now, the type of kids and the atmosphere, there’s just a lot of positives,” says Austin. “You’re coaching good kids and working in good communities that we’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of.”
After two seasons at his former helm, Shaver hired Austin to be the Tribe’s director of operations. Austin is currently in the midst of his third season as an assistant coach for William & Mary.
“I always would have been thrilled to coach with him but I wouldn’t say I would have dreamed about it,” Shaver said. “I know how difficult these things can be.”
However, the two have found a way to make it work, partly because they each know their role. Austin understands his responsibilities are scouting, recruiting and working with the Tribe’s big men (even though he was a guard in high school). This includes former Tribe stud Tim Rosthoven.
“We have different kinds of posts,” Austin said. “Tim was more of a scorer, great touch around the rim. Some of the guys we have now are more athletic, great defenders so I think it’s been a unique challenge.”
Austin’s impact on the Tribe’s current forwards – Sean Sheldon, Jack Whitman and Tom Schalk – has been evident in the past couple weeks.
Sheldon scored a career-high 15 points to lead the Tribe to a win over CAA-favorite Northeastern on January 24. After suffering an injury at the end of that game, Whitman and Schalk have stepped up for Shaver in the frontcourt.
“His work with all three of those guys has given confidence and improved their playing ability,” Shaver said.
Austin has also seen his father reach new heights as a coach. On Dec. 19, Shaver won his 500th career game as a head coach.
“He’s not real big on individual accomplishments, he’s just excited of how the season is going,” says Austin. “But I’m certainly proud of him.”
And while Austin hopes to one day reach the position his father holds, right now he’s just enjoying the ride.
“We get along great,” says Austin. “We’re just fortunate to work together and see each other everyday.”