Tom Shawhan has been successful at coaching, but not retiring from it

Posted: May 19, 2012 at 5:19 pm

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May 18, 2012 - Lone Star Football League (LSFL) Rio Grande Valley Magic By CHRIS ARDIS of

McALLEN - When Tom Shawhan accepted a scholarship to play football and to wrestle at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, he saw it as a chance to enjoy, for four more years, the sports he loved. Then, with his bachelor's in pre-med, he would leave the pads and the mats behind for medical school. But life has a funny way of leading us down a different path than the one we planned.

Shortly after entering UNO, Tom's dual-sport scholarship was amended to a single sport, football, because the coach wanted this defensive end to focus only on the gridiron. That wasn't the only path that was diverted. During the summer between his sophomore and junior year, Tom coached a basketball team of fourth through sixth graders for a Christian league at the YMCA.

"I realized I loved coaching," Tom said. He loved it so much that he returned to UNO and changed his major from pre-med to physical education.

Shortly after he graduated from college, Tom went to watch the Omaha Mustangs, the city's first semi-pro football team, practice. The team's coach approached him and asked, "Would you like to play for us?" Tom tried out and made the team. (The team is now the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.) It was a summer football league, and Tom played with the team for two years.

Now a college graduate, Tom worked as a substitute teacher for one semester. Then he got a call from Lawton Bronson Consolidated School District in Iowa. Lawton, Iowa has a population of roughly 1,000 and Bronson, 300.

"Three days a week, I would teach p.e. to seventh through twelfth graders," Tom said, "and two days a week I'd teach kinder through sixth. I coached football, wrestling and track at the high school and drove the team bus."

Tom later moved to South Sioux City High School in Nebraska. There, he met Coach David Lee. When Coach Lee left to South Sioux City to become a principal, Tom assumed the position of head coach.

Tom and his wife, Donna, missed Omaha, so they headed home. Tom became head coach at Omaha Bryan High School. He didn't stay long at Bryan. Deciding he needed to take a break from teaching and coaching, Tom took a job as manager at a McDonald's.

"The entire year he was at McDonald's," Donna said, "former players kept going in there and asking him, 'When are you coming back?'" Tom knew he couldn't stay out of coaching for long.

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Tom Shawhan has been successful at coaching, but not retiring from it

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May 19th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

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