Just a year removed from graduating from Hanover College, Patrick Bear wasn’t totally sure he was ready to jump into the coaching game right away. But when a position opened up at his alma mater, he knew that was too good to pass up.
Bear was officially introduced as the new head soccer coach at Shawe Memorial High School on Friday, meeting his team for the first time. As a Shawe graduate who scored the winning goal the last time the Hilltoppers won a sectional title in 2015, Bear is excited to get on the field and help rebuild the program that he loves.
“I had a lot of great memories here and I wanted to bring that feeling back to these kids,” Bear said. “I had such great coaches that were willing to do anything for me and I want to do the same. We had a lot of success my senior year winning a sectional title and I want to bring a title back.”
Bear replaces Cameron Willoughby, who isn’t stepping down as much as stepping aside. A longtime assistant with the program, Willoughby took the top job two years ago after Seth Hall resigned just before the start of the season. But Willoughby’s day job does not afford him the opportunity to be around the program on a full-time basis so a new head coach was needed.
Bear, who taught chemistry this past year at Switzerland County High School and will teach the same subject at Shawe, fit that bill perfectly. And with Willoughby staying on staff once again as an assistant and Bear’s high school teammate, Cameron Rampy, also joining the staff, Bear likes the group he’ll have in place to lead the Hilltoppers.
“(Rampy) and I have been friends for a long time and having Coach Cam back means we have a really good support system,” Bear said. “We’re going to be able to do what is best for these kids.”
“Patrick is a young, intelligent, up and coming coach with a lot of passion and enthusiasm for sports and teaching. We feel that he will be an excellent role model and motivator for our students making him a great fit to lead our young soccer program which only loses one senior going into this upcoming fall season,” Shawe Athletic Director Jamison Bower said. “Although he may not have a lot of experience specific to soccer, we believe he has all the qualities and knowledge needed to become a great coach given the opportunity. As a former Hilltopper himself, Patrick already has a good understanding of what Shawe athletics are about and our school’s values. We look forward to watching his growth as he and his staff work to revitalize our soccer program and return to relevance within ORVC standings and compete for Sectional Championships.
Shawe went just 2-13-4 last season but the record was deceiving. The Hilltoppers started easily the youngest team in the area and had five games decided by single goals.
Bear didn’t get a chance to see the Hilltoppers play much last year but talking to Willoughby, he knows what kind of team he has and is confident that they will turn the corner this year.
“It’s a great sign to see close games and I think it comes down to age for some kids. We were a young team,” Bear said. “We have a lot of talented players and now we want to see them take the next step and make the move to where these close games are you up one or two goals, not the other way around. That comes with experience.”
Bear met his team briefly on Friday but due to the IHSAA dead period at the end of the month, the team will not begin offseason workouts until June 1.