Shane Turner has begun his head coaching career, taking over Red Bank's wrestling program following a year as an assistant to Ben Reichel.
Now in his early 40s, Turner is fulfilling his career dream that had been on hold for more than half his life.
"I was a carpenter, and I made a lot of money at it, but I was tired of being a volunteer assistant and my dream was always to be a coach," he said.
He set aside hammer and nails and enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga at 38.
"You ought to try being 38 years old and going back to college. Now that's scary," he said.
Three years later in 2011, he was a history major graduate with a 3.85 grade point average and a teaching certificate.
"Imagine that," he said with a chuckle, "the high school dummy graduating magna cum laude."
He averaged 19-21 hours a semester and crammed in seven classes his last one to complete graduation requirements.
His house-framing savings supplemented his wife's teaching salary over the three years of attending class and studying.
"I had a lot of support from Katie. You can't take 21 hours and work and make straight A's, but I wanted to prove to myself I could do it," Turner said.
He freely admits he had a lot of help along the way, much of it from his high school coach and mentor, Steve Henry, the well-known Soddy-Daisy coach who moved into administration last year.
"Even though we butted heads some, I learned a lot from him about being a coach and a man," Turner said. "I can't neglect the impact he's had on my life."
He said he also learned much from Schaack Van Deusen and Ben Nelson during two years as a volunteer assistant at Baylor while attending UTC.
But long before Baylor, Turner ran the Soddy-Daisy kids club and served as a volunteer assistant for Henry and the Trojans.
"He'll do a good job at Red Bank, and the reason he'll do so is because he knows how to do it," Henry said. "He learned wrestling and he can coach, and his going back to school wasn't just to be a head coach. I think he wasn't happy where his life was, and he saw the need for stability. He made the choice and he did it, and that decision and his resolve is very much deserving of respect."
Respect is a word that Turner wants to return to Red Bank wrestling. The Lions, long-ago leaders under John Farr in the sport's local and state development, were annual title contenders and state-tournament contributors. Last year, though, they finished the season with just nine wrestlers.
When named head coach last spring, Turner hit the ground running. He and the wrestling team put in more than four weeks repainting the old gym at the far end of the school adjacent to the football locker area and weight rooms. For the first time in years, Red Bank had kids wrestling year-around. That was reason enough to excite the coach, who'll start 10 sophomores.
He also has instituted a study hall and had each wrestler sign an agreement that has school citizenship at the top of the list.
"That's the No. 1 priority from the way we dress to the way we talk -- acceptable language -- to the way we interact with teachers and other students. And there's no room for selfish-minded wrestlers in our program," Turner said. "I'm genuinely excited about the direction of this program."
Contact Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfree press.com or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...