When I first heard of Shawn Shreffler, I didn't even live in Chambersburg.
I was a reporter for a paper in western Pa., and my interview for a position at Public Opinion was put on hold due to the "Shreffler catastrophe," as it was first described to me.
When there's controversy, there's differing opinions, and everyone seemed to have one of their own. While I can't say much about what happened before I arrived in Franklin County, I can tell you one thing I've learned since: Shawn Shreffler is Chambersburg boys basketball.
Shreffler's forced hiatus caused him to miss the 2012-13 and '13-14 seasons, during which the Trojans went 18-30. In 2012, Chambersburg won the District 3 Class AAAA championship under Shreffler. In 2013, virtually the same group of Trojans failed to qualify for states after losing three straight to end districts.
The next year was the worst since 1990-91. Chambersburg went a measly 3-19, lost 14 games in a row, and was all but winless in the Mid Penn Commonwealth Division, squeaking out a one-point win over Central Dauphin. The problems for the Trojans weren't just on the court, though.
"Last year, we didn't have any trust," former Trojan player Austin Suders said prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, which was Shreffler's first year back. "This year, we're really starting to come together as one."
You can definitely tell.
Prior to his time off, Shreffler had coached 15 seasons for Chambersburg. He compiled a 241-150 record, good for a .616 win percentage; and never once were the Trojans under .500 during Shreffler's regime.
Shreffler's first losing record came upon his return in 2014-15, when the Trojans went 8-14.
Growing pains were clearly a factor for the Trojans, who continued on their upward trend this season. They finished the year 11-11 and were sixth in one of the top basketball divisions in the state.
To review, in a two-year time span, Shreffler took Chambersburg from its worst season in 25 years to a spot in the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs.
"Honestly, I don't think our kids quite understood (early in the year) what Shawn's teams bring to the table," CD East coach Don Ross said after defeating the Trojans in the postseason. CDE split with Chambersburg in the regular season. "They play so hard. I think our kids were better prepared this time for that type of intensity and heart and fight that they show. We were more ready to compete at a high level, like Shawn's teams do."
Chambersburg has certainly been more aggressive under Shreffler. The Trojans have put an emphasis on hurried plays and solid help defense, a team effort on the boards and using their offensive depth to their advantage.
Another big focus for Shreffler and the Trojans has been weathering the bad times. This season, Chambersburg suffered a slew of injuries and it resulted in a seven-game losing skid. The Trojans responded with a four-game win streak to make a final push and reclaim their place in the postseason.
Once again, Shreffler's influence on this team and this program resonates further than just on the court.
"I think Coach Shreffler being back is probably the main reason for our success," Trojan junior Cade Whitfield said. "He gets us in the gym early in the mornings, and he'll stay with us late after school. We have our 'Breakfast Clubs' and open gyms. We do a lot of team trips; we've even been to a couple Penn State games.
"If you work hard at it, he's going to show respect for you. He's so dedicated to the game, you just want to go out there and play your hardest just for him. He's doing everything he can for (every player) and for our team."
And because of Shreffler, the word "team" finally means something in Chambersburg again.