Luke Shoemaker is getting his shot to be a head soccer coach.
Shoemaker, an assistant coach with Siloam Springs' soccer teams the last four years and a coach in the district since 2012, was hired Thursday as the head boys soccer coach at Greenwood.
The Grove, Okla., native and University of Arkansas graduate Shoemaker, 27, said he will forever cherish the time spent in Siloam Springs, where he's been a part of a combined six state championships in boys and girls soccer the last four years.
"Several years ago Siloam Springs and Mr. (Ken) Ramey took a chance on a young, inexperienced, but passionate young man fresh out of college and I thank God everyday that they did," Shoemaker said. "I have grown so much in the classroom and on the field that words alone cannot express my gratitude to this town and the school district. I will always have a special place in my heart for Siloam Springs."
Shoemaker was hired as a teacher in 2012 and was asked if he'd like to coach seventh-grade football as well.
In 2013 he joined the ninth-grade football staff and was the freshman Panthers' defensive coordinator in 2016, working under football coaches Chuck Jones and Jonathan Johnson.
"What a blessing it has been to work under men of strong character and with servant's hearts," Shoemaker said. "They both constantly pushed me and helped mold many values and beliefs that I will take with me throughout my career."
Johnson, the head ninth-grade football coach, said the football coaches have enjoyed watching Shoemaker grow personally and professionally.
"We were looking forward to seeing him continue to develop as a coach and have him influence our young people in a positive manner," Johnson said. "I know we will see him have that same great influence on the student-athletes at Greenwood."
Shoemaker joined the soccer staff under Jason Bowen in 2014 and helped the Lady Panthers win their first of four straight Class 6A state championships. Both soccer teams played for state titles in 2015 under Chuck Jones with the girls winning again, and the last two seasons both teams have won state titles under Brent Crenshaw.
"On the soccer field I also learned more in four years than I did in the previous 22 years of my life," Shoemaker said. "I got to work with a man in Jason Bowen that taught me the value in discipline and hard work. He showed me that talent alone does not win games nor is winning the most important thing about what we do. He showed me that instilling your core beliefs in your players, pushing them to improve each and every day, and that teaching them the value in discipline and how doing the right thing always goes a long way. I am forever grateful to Jason for the things I learned from him, and he fueled my love for soccer.
"I also can't leave off Brent Crenshaw. I have always been a soccer junkie. I watch numerous hours of soccer to better understand the nuances of the game, but Brent helped me see a lot of things that I did not previously know. I will always look to him as a mentor and a close friend. I could not have asked for two better head coaches to teach me what it takes to be successful as a head soccer coach."
Shoemaker will inherit a Greenwood program that has hit hard times in recent years.
The Bulldogs went to the Class 6A state championship game in 2014, where they lost to Russellville 1-0 in extra time.
Greenwood only won four games this season, including a victory over Siloam Springs' junior varsity team in the Panther Soccer Classic held in March in Siloam Springs.
Greenwood's boys and girls were coached by Andrew Post, who will now coach girls only.
"I look forward to the opportunity to coach at such a great school district as Greenwood," Shoemaker said. "It has a rich history of athletic excellence and has an administration that is devoted to building young men and women of strong character along with champions on the field. I am looking forward to this opportunity to instill in them some of the things I value and believe in and I hope that I can make the impact that I know these young men deserve.
"I have worked for what I believe is the best soccer program in the state of Arkansas and I hope to take what I have learned here and do all that I can to get Greenwood to that level. Fortunately, Coach Post has done a terrific job there the last few years and as the girls coach I know he and I have a similar vision for Greenwood soccer as a whole, not just at the high school level. I look forward to working there and doing all I can to build a program that rivals Siloam Springs."
Siloam Springs head soccer coach Brent Crenshaw said Shoemaker will be tough to replace.
"I'm bummed, but then I'm happy for him as well," Crenshaw said. "I can't hold a guy back that wants to go be a head coach. I mean that's what everybody wants to do. He knows he needs to start from the ground up with the youth program over there to really start a program over there. He'll do a good job, but we really hate to lose him. Bigger and better things for him."
Shoemaker said he cannot stress enough how much the kids he has taught and coached have meant to him.
"I told the Greenwood administration that outside of trying to live a life that honors my Savior, coaching and teaching is my life," he said. "The relationships that I have built with all the kids that have ever walked through my door or played for me will echo throughout my lifetime. They have meant more to me than I could ever explain. The love I hold in my heart for the students of Siloam Springs is unrivaled by anything in my life.
"When things got rough for me in my personal life, the boys and girls that I got to coach every single day were such a blessing to me. They gave me strength each and every day. There is a reason God placed them in my life and I will miss the chance to be their coach, but I look forward to pouring out my heart to the kids of Greenwood, who will get nothing but 100 percent from me constantly."Sports on 06/11/2017
Print Headline: Shoemaker to lead Greenwood boys soccer