Scot Shaw and Adam Homo finished their respective coaching careers at Elkhart Memorial High School over the weekend.

Well, sort of.

Homo is an Elkhart lifer. A guy who was once the "team mascot'' at Brookdale Junior High School when his dad Dana was the head coach.

And while his cross country coaching career at Memorial ended on Saturday when he coached senior Morgan Dyer at the IHSAA state finals, Homo will be back in the spring coaching boys and girls track for the Crimson Chargers.

Shaw came to Memorial five years ago – already a Hall of Fame football coach in the state of Michigan – hoping to revive a struggling Charger program.

Things didn't work out perfectly for Shaw, who finished 12-39 at Memorial after losing to Mishawaka in the Class 5A sectional last Friday.

Now each look to the future and wonder.

I've known Shaw for more time than either of us want to admit. When he was coaching at Three Rivers, I covered several of his team's tournament games, including a run to the state semifinals. I also saw him chase a Dowagiac High halfback named Brent Lesniak down the sidelines in the snow one tournament season, as he implored his defensive backs to stop a 99-yard touchdown run that would clinch a Chieftain victory.

Shaw and Three Rivers would win an elusive state title in 2003, his final year with the Wildcats. He also won 16 conference titles there, before leaving to coach at Grandville High School near Grand Rapids.

And while his days of chasing running backs may be over, what of Shaw's coaching career?

I asked him Friday if he plans to apply for the Elkhart High School coaching position later this year.

"I really haven't decided,'' Shaw said. "There is a part of me that really wants to, but I'm just not sure. I've had a few job offers, so my wife and I will sit down and talk about it and go from there.''

Planning early for his retirement, Shaw began planting Christmas trees on his property in Granger.

"I've got four years in already, so in about two or three years, they should be big enough to start selling some off,'' Shaw said.

Success can be measured a number of ways for a coach. The wins and losses are important in a competitive world, of course, but what a coach means to a team, a school and a community shouldn't be overlooked.

After Friday's loss, Shaw hugged and spoke quietly to each of his seniors right at the 20-yard line. He made sure he hadn't missed one before he came and talked to the media.

"This is tough every year, but tonight was a little tougher,'' Shaw admitted. "We're not only saying goodbye to a great group of seniors, but also to Elkhart Memorial football. This program has meant a lot to a lot of people, including me, and I hate to see it go.''

If Friday's game was indeed his finale as a head coach, Shaw will have come a full circle, as his first high school game was at Mishawaka's Steele Stadium in 1971 as a MHS freshman.

Homo ran cross country and track, while also swimming as a student at Elkhart Central. His father Dana was his cross country coach for the Chargers and has served as an assistant to Adam throughout his coaching career at Memorial.

"My earliest recollections of watching running was when my father coached track for Brookdale Junior High,'' Homo remembered.  "I was sort of the 'team mascot,' which basically meant my mother got tired of me and dropped me off at my father's practices. My father would just tell me to run around the building to blow off steam, so I did a lot of that. I also ran through the woods which, at that time, surrounded the property.''

Homo's career as an athlete at Elkhart Central overlapped with some of the great names in Elkhart coaching history, including the legendary Tom Kurth in track.

"Coach Kurth was adamant that I could be a good miler and kept giving me encouragement,'' Homo said. "He told me that I was going to run an excellent mile time my senior year and he was correct; I ran a 4:40.1 in my last high school race against Elkhart Memorial. Unfortunately, Andy Reuss beat me in the last 10 meters. I could hear him coming, but I could not run any faster, and he just edged me out. Coach Kurth was most complimentary of my time, and coach (Jim) Eger came over and told me that Andy and I had run a great race. I didn't think it was so great because I had been beaten by Andy Reuss ... a Charger.''

After swimming and doing some running in college, Homo eventually became the cross country coach at Memorial. He's been the girls coach for 15 years now and the boys coach for 12. In 2018, both teams won the Elkhart Sectional title at Ox Bow Park.

As a former Central athlete and a Memorial coach, Homo has a keen knowledge of what the rivalry means to those in Elkhart. He also admits, the Central-Memorial cross country meet this fall was something special.

"I was a little more nostalgic than I thought I would be,'' Homo said of the meet. "I have been on both sides of the rivalry, and I always found it invigorating. However, when we – I am referring to all runners – stepped up to the start line this year, the realization hit that this was it. There would be no more rivalry. Both sides of town have had excellent runners throughout the years and it saddened me to think that there wouldn't be a showcase to show off the best of what each side of town had produced. However, I am excited about what the future holds.

Homo, who will interview for the cross country position at Elkhart High, is an extension of three of the great track coaches in Elkhart history, his father, Tom Kurth and Eger, who has served as an assistant for the Chargers track program for a number of years under Adam Homo.

"In a roundabout way, the two coaches with the most influence on me in terms of my running career are my father, Dana Homo, and coach Tom Kurth,'' Adam said. "My father introduced me to running and gave me the basis to work hard and Tom Kurth was most encouraging and always believed that I could do better than I was doing. I always tried to live up to those expectations.

"I am chasing the greats in terms of influence, but I hope to be seen as a coach who positively influenced untold numbers of Elkhart student-athletes.''

It seems to me that Adam Homo and Scot Shaw have already done that. As have many of the coaches at both Memorial and Central who have seen their jobs go away in the last month or so.

Let's not lose sight of that.

Ken Fox is the sports editor of the Elkhart Truth. You may reach him at kfox@elkharttruth.com or @KenFoxTruth on Twitter.

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