End of an era: Shuman’s great coaching career started in Ravenswood

Mark Martin
Randy Shuman, who launched his coaching career at Ravenwood High as a student assistant, recently wrapped up 31 years as the head boys basketball coach for Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Fla. Shuman won 601 games at the school, including a state championship.

GULFPORT, Fla. — As an aspiring young coach, who was just a few years removed from high school, Randy Shuman turned to one of his former leaders for guidance.

Mick Price, who was in his second season as Ravenswood High School’s fiery, goal-oriented and hard-working head boys basketball coach, had tutored Shuman as an athlete during his brief time at old Sistersville High School.

Attending Salem College (now Salem International University), Shuman was looking to wrap up his education degree in quick fashion, take care of his student teaching duties and begin cutting his teeth in the circles of coaching.

He did so with Price at Ravenswood during the school year of 1979-80.

It was a basketball season that would see Price’s Runnin’ Red Devils snap a 30-year Ravenswood basketball drought by making it to the West Virginia Boys High School State Tournament at the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown.

These days, Price is still coaching the red and black. This current season of 2021 is his 43rd at the helm. He has 698 (and counting) victories to his credit, ranking second in the state to Martinsburg’s Dave Rogers among active coaches. Along the way he has won a pair of Class AA state championships at Ravenswood.

Little did Shuman know back in the season of 1979-80 that his career would take a similar path as Price’s when it comes to wins and success.

Fast forward 41 years.

Randy Shuman’s coaching career, the one he so longed for as a young gun back in his Ravenswood days, wrapped up this past February at Boca Ciega High School, located on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Florida in Gulfport.

It is safe to say Shuman learned a thing or two under Price while helping lead the Devils in that magical season of ’79-80.

When the buzzer sounded in Shuman’s final game as a head coach, he walked into the locker room with a fabulous record of 601-246 directing the gold and blue-clad Pirates.

And to think, it all started along the banks of the Ohio River in Ravenswood.

Shuman’s memories of spending nearly a year in the picturesque town are still quite vivid and meaningful to this day.

“I was doing my classes arranged. I was doing a teaching block there at the high school. It was a busy time, a busy load,” Shuman said from his home in the Sunshine State. “Then the success Mick had that year getting them to the State Tournament. That was even more icing on the cake.”

Following his school year in Ravenswood, Shuman returned to his hometown of Sistersville to begin his teaching and coaching careers. “I was there with Louie Nocida (who won five Class A state championships as the Tigers head football coach). I was his assistant football coach (including the 1981 championship season) and I was the head freshman basketball coach when I went back.”

Shuman later became the head boys varsity basketball coach and won 17 games in his first season.

He compiled a two-year mark of 30-15 at Sistersville. His 1982-83 squad won the only Ohio Valley Athletic Conference title in school history.

He left Sistersville to become an assistant basketball coach at tradition-rich Logan High School.

While at Logan, Shuman was on a staff which featured Ripley High graduate Randy Anderson, who would later lead his alma mater to its first and only State Tournament appearance in school history during the 1995-96 season. (Anderson has since moved on to pile up wins as a head coach in Kentucky at both Lawrence County High School and Boyd County High School).

Shuman and Anderson worked under Rick Cook, who had been a long-time assistant to the legendary Willie Akers.

The trio had the Wildcats in the 1984 Class AAA portion of the State Tournament.

Shuman was in Logan for three years before coming back to Sistersville to work as a teacher. He coached as a volunteer assistant for Jim O’Brien at Wheeling College. O’Brien would move up the coaching ladder and eventually became the leader for the NBA’s Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Indiana Pacers.

After his stint back home, Shuman made the move to Florida and never looked back.

“My wife (the former Angela Snodgrass of Sistersville) got transferred and one thing led to another. We knew some people down here and just decided to make a break.”

It would be the start of a 34-year run at Boca Ciega High School. This past season was his 31st as head boys basketball coach.

“I got down here and started coaching a little football and stuff to get myself in the door,” Shuman said.

He credits another former Sistersville native — Jon Bolen — for getting him started as a coach in Florida. Bolen was then the head football coach at BCHS and hired Shuman. Bolen would later return to West Virginia and do great things as the head football coach at Parkersburg South.

Once hired as the head basketball coach, Shuman would slowly build the blue and gold-clad Pirate program into one of Florida’s very best at the high school level.

Among Shuman’s 601 victories at the school was a Class 4A state championship in 1994. The Pirates defeated Hallendale, 67-62, to bring home the crown and cap off a 33-2 season.

He also had another Pirate team reach the State Tournament (which consists of just four teams in each class) in 2002.

“We let that one get away. We had a double-digit lead to the team (Haines City) that won it,” said Shuman of a Pirate squad which finished 27-5.

The state championship was staged inside Tallahassee’s Leon County Civic Center, home of the Florida State Seminoles. Boca’s other State Tournament appearance was played at the Lakeland Civic Center.

Along the way, Shuman-coached teams won 10 district titles and seven Pinellas County Athletic Conference championships — a league featuring 16 schools.

He coached an array of outstanding players during his time leading the way at Boca Ciega. Dain Brown was the State Player of the Year.

Darren Howard played basketball for Shuman before taking a football scholarship offer to Kansas State. He later was the 33rd pick in the NFL Draft and enjoyed an outstanding 12-year career.

It’s never easy walking away from something you love, but Shuman knew before the season started that the 2020-21 campaign would be his last.

He garnered his 600th career win in the opening round of the postseason.

“I don’t really get into that stuff, but you know when you get to this age people are asking you two questions: 'When you’re retiring and what’s your record?'”

Counting his days at Sistersville, Shuman’s career mark stands at 631-261.

Due to COVID-19, Shuman’s final team at Boca Ciega had seven games wiped from its schedule.

His final time on the sidelines was in a regional quarterfinal round game with Tampa’s Blake High School, which resulted in a tough, 49-46, overtime defeat.

“What a way to go out,” Shuman said laughing.

But as indicated with his record, the wins far exceeded the losses. And along the way he built up a treasure chest full of wonderful highlights and friendships.

The close bonds Shuman formed through the years of coaching and athletics can be traced back to his days in Sistersville when he got to hang around individuals like Price, who at the time was an extremely young coach himself.

“My father-in-law was the head of the boosters (club) for a lot of years. That’s how I got to be close with Mick. Those guys would always come over to his house after the games and stuff. It helped me grow years beyond what I might have been,” he said.

“The conversations you hear from a different side. It made me mature a lot faster than I may have normally. I was always around older people it seemed like. They were my peers and they were my buddies.”

Besides Price and Nocida (who, by the way, was the head coach at Magnolia in 1972 when Ravenswood knocked off the Blue Eagles, 14-6, for the Class AA state football championship in Parkersburg), Shuman also had the luxury of rubbing shoulders with other notable coaches who spent time in Sistersville, including the late Bill Stewart, West Virginia University’s head football coach from 2008-10.

In addition to finishing up his coaching career, Shuman will soon be putting the wraps on his time in the education field. For many years he taught physical education and driver’s education. The past few school terms he has worked in administration, overseeing attendance of students within the Boca Ciega system.

He and his wife are the proud parents of two children, a daughter, Tiffany, who is a teacher, and a son, Jacob, one of his former players who is presently attending junior college.

Shuman said his short stay in Ravenswood overflows with wonderful thoughts.

“I think about riding on a motorcycle with Cub Curry (a former Ravenswood football standout) to night classes (at what was then Parkersburg Community College and now West Virginia University-Parkersburg),” he said.

When asked what Price has meant to his coaching career, Shuman did not hesitate in answering. “Pretty much everything,” he said.

“Everybody tells you that he’ll treat you like a son. He gave me that opportunity. I lived in his basement.

“He’s truly been a mentor and a friend. We went from player/coach to coach/coach to friend to family friend, who will be there forever.”

Price is tremendously happy for Shuman's success and cherishes their relationship that goes back to when he was a young coach.

“He was one of the best all-around athletes I had the privilege to coach. He was a great point guard,” said Price.

As a senior in the basketball season of 1976-77, Shuman ran the offense for the Tigers, who reached the semifinals of the Class A State Tournament. Price served that season as the late Ray Barnhart’s assistant.

The Tigers fell to old Gauley Bridge High School (now a part of Oak Hill), 80-66. Gauley Bridge was then beaten in the championship by old Glen Rogers High (now a part of Wyoming East), 69-65, for the title.

Barnhart left the following year to become Salem College’s head coach with Price taking over the Tiger program prior to making his move to Ravenswood.

As Price noted, Shuman was an excellent all-around athlete. “He was a very good baseball player. He decided to go out for the football team and he could catch better than everyone.

“He had a competitive greatness. He soaked up everything. He was that guy always asking, ‘What do I have do to help my team win?'"

Price went on to say, “He and I have had a great relationship. We became really close and we’ve remained close. I’ve always been proud of him. He’s done a great job in his profession.”

Shuman and his wife are making plans for a return to the Mountain State after soaking up the sunshine for more than 30 years.

He is looking forward to coming home and spending time with old friends.

One can bet there will be many visits to see Price in Ravenswood. 

And while getting out of his vehicle to make his way into Price’s home on the corner of Ann and Sycamore Streets, he will glance across the street to look at Ravenswood High School's Old Gymnasium (aka “The Pit).

The place where Randy Shuman’s glorious coaching career was born.