Ready to retire: Mark Shoap has coached the Chambersburg Trojan boys swimming team for 18 years and has won 72 percent of his dual meets.
Ready to retire: Mark Shoap has coached the Chambersburg Trojan boys swimming team for 18 years and has won 72 percent of his dual meets.
Being a high school head coach means more than just running a team; it also involves building relationships, motivating and sometimes hand-holding.

Chambersburg boys swim coach Mark Shoap possesses all of these qualities, making not just a successful coach but also an inspiring mentor.

"I've known Mark since I was seven years old, and he's the one that really got me hooked on swimming," said former Trojan swimmer Anthony Addlesberger. "The biggest thing about Mark was his passion. He loved coaching and teaching and building relationships. He invested in me."

After 18 years at the post, Shoap is retiring with an impressive 134-51-1 (.723) career record.

"He has a wide variety of strengths since he's been coaching for so long," Chambersburg senior Bryton Zook said. "He has the expertise of knowing what you need to practice to be better every day. Not only has he been a great coach, he's been a great role model for me."

Former Trojan swimmer Derek Day, who graduated in 2009, said, "He is one person that I have always looked up to and one of the best coaches I've ever had. He's just a good man to the core."

Shoap is an elementary teacher, and with the schedule having changed so elementary schools dismiss later than the high school, Shoap feels as if he is getting pulled in too many directions.

"With the new schedule, the kids are already in the water at practice when I'm still at school," Shoap said. "I miss that time to check in with the kids and to set goals and review the days' meet before, things like that. That's probably the biggest part of coaching that I enjoy, and I just don't get to do that anymore."

Shoap has had a big influence on Chambersburg's swimming program. In addition to leading Brian Hostetler to the 100-meter freestyle PIAA title in 1997, Shoap also had a silver-place finisher at states in the 100 butterfly in 2002, Chad White.

"He's been a big part of my life for a very long time, and really, out of all my swim coaches, he's been the most influential to my success," White said. "He always found ways to motivate his swimmers in unique ways, and he always was able to get the most out of me."

Addlesberger, who is now the Chambersburg YMCA Chargers coach, said getting that effort is one of the greatest things he learned from Shoap's coaching style.

"He doesn't let them get away with 95 percent effort," Addlesberger said. "He asks for 110 percent effort all the time. I've learned a lot from coach Shoap, but if I could pick just one thing it's that he always asks for the best and finds a way to get that 110 percent."

Not only did Shoap teach his swimmers to give a full effort, but he also taught them the importance of confidence.

"I think the biggest thing is he taught me to believe in my life and that I can do whatever I want to do," Trojan senior Chandler Johnson said. "Before I got on the team, I didn't necessarily think that way, but he puts a lot of thought and effort into making us believe that."

One of Shoap's favorite parts about coaching was about more than swimming. In fact, he said the part he'll miss most about the job is the conversations he had with his swimmers.

Former Trojan swimmer Robert Wilson said, "He taught us more about handling the ups and downs ahead of us in life and how to be good people. There was nothing he would not do to support one of his swimmers, and he always wanted the best for us."

Before this season even started, Shoap had already announced his retirement. The boys took that as a motivational factor and finished the regular season with a 7-4 record. Their only losses were to tough Mid Penn Commonwealth Division opponents.

Despite giving a lot of thought to the decision, Shoap said he will greatly miss coaching.

"The rewards are in the kids and their performances," Shoap said. "I really enjoy finding that magic that turns the kids on. They can find ways to improve themselves as swimmers and as people, and it's as much fun coaching them in life as it is in the pool."

With the position yet to be filled, Trojan girls coach Donnie Miller is unsure about what will happen in the future. Miller has worked alongside Shoap for 12 years - he was a volunteer assistant for one year, and this was his 11th season as the girls coach. Regardless of who takes over, Miller knows they will have big shoes to fill.

"Mark's been a positive influence on me and how to work with the kids," Miller said. "He's had me incorporate some games and some fun, and he reminds me that these are high school students and that we should definitely try to help them enjoy the experience."

Many of Shoap's swimmers said they always had fun as Trojan swimmers, and that helped fuel their love of the sport. White reminisced about pizza parties Shoap would hold at his house before big meets, while Zook remembered fondly the weekends he spent with Shoap playing disc golf at Wilson College. Day said Shoap held a Super Bowl party for the team, and it was "one of the best Super Bowl parties that I have ever been to."

Even Addlesberger said despite the enjoyment he got out of traveling to big meets, his best memories occurred at practices.

"I really loved the practices because coach Shoap brought such energy on the deck every day," Addlesberger said. "His ability to build relationships and just have fun with the guys - while, at the same time, getting us to swim fast - was what made him unique."

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Lizi Arbogast can be reached at 262-4788 or larbogast@publicopinionnews.com.