Gary Shaffer honored at reunion dinner


By Chris Hoppes - choppes@aimmediamidwest.com



Several dozen former Blue Lion basketball players turned out to honor coach Gary Shaffer Saturday, June 15, 2019. A reunion dinner was held at the Washington High School gymnasium. (front, l-r); Kenny Knisley, Gary Mount, Herb Sollars, Gary Shaffer, Kenny Upthegrove, Brandon Gray, Craig Copas, Blaise Tayese; (second row, l-r); John Denen, Vic Pontius, Jeff Wallace, Jeff Downs, Marc Haugen, Rob Pittser, Shad Bartruff, Dustin Pfeifer; (third row, l-r); Eric Clark, Gale Shaffer, Evan Upthegrove, James Carr, Chad Wise, Travis Robertson, Tyler Robertson, Colt Sever, Jeff Smallwood; (fourth row, l-r); Grant Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Greg Shaffer, Steve Bowers, Danny Mahoney, Corey Dye, Brian Southward, Trent Shaw, Jerry Mount; (fifth row, l-r); Keith Eckles, Cameron Eckles, Greg Wall, Tom Bath, Mychal Turner, Terry Wilson, Steve Phillips, Doug Phillips, Rick Nichols, Jim McDonald; (back, l-r); Griffin Shaw, Jeff Shaw, Mark Heiny, Kyler Mount, Tom Bath, DeHart Foster and Steve Pritchet.

Several dozen former Blue Lion basketball players turned out to honor coach Gary Shaffer Saturday, June 15, 2019. A reunion dinner was held at the Washington High School gymnasium. (front, l-r); Kenny Knisley, Gary Mount, Herb Sollars, Gary Shaffer, Kenny Upthegrove, Brandon Gray, Craig Copas, Blaise Tayese; (second row, l-r); John Denen, Vic Pontius, Jeff Wallace, Jeff Downs, Marc Haugen, Rob Pittser, Shad Bartruff, Dustin Pfeifer; (third row, l-r); Eric Clark, Gale Shaffer, Evan Upthegrove, James Carr, Chad Wise, Travis Robertson, Tyler Robertson, Colt Sever, Jeff Smallwood; (fourth row, l-r); Grant Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Greg Shaffer, Steve Bowers, Danny Mahoney, Corey Dye, Brian Southward, Trent Shaw, Jerry Mount; (fifth row, l-r); Keith Eckles, Cameron Eckles, Greg Wall, Tom Bath, Mychal Turner, Terry Wilson, Steve Phillips, Doug Phillips, Rick Nichols, Jim McDonald; (back, l-r); Griffin Shaw, Jeff Shaw, Mark Heiny, Kyler Mount, Tom Bath, DeHart Foster and Steve Pritchet.


Former Washington High School Athletic Director Dale Lynch served as master of ceremonies for the reunion dinner.


(l-r); Tony Tyree, DeHart Foster and Tom Dean.


Washington High School’s all-time leading male scorer, Dustin Pfeifer, who scored 1,722 points in four seasons.


(l-r); Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Tooill, Karen Epifano, Nick Epifano and Gary Shaffer.


(l-r); Dewey Foster, Gary Mount and Mark Heiny.


The Gary Shaffer family at the reunion dinner Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Washington High School. (l-r); Greg Shaffer, Gary B. Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Jean Shaffer, Gale Shaffer and Grant Shaffer.


Coach Gary Shaffer.


Dorothy Shaffer, right, Gary Shaffer’s mother, chats with Marc Haugen.


(l-r); Jean Shaffer, Jack Clark and Gary Shaffer.


Jeff Shaw, left, catches up with Mychal Turner.


Photos by Mary Kay West

(l-r); Jeff Smallwood, Tyler Robertson and Travis Robertson.


Photos by Mary Kay West

John Denen spoke to the crowd at the Gary Shaffer reunion dinner Saturday, June 15, 2019.


Photos by Mary Kay West

John Taylor, left and Gary Shaffer.


Photos by Mary Kay West

Rick Nichols, left and Steve Pritchet.


Photos by Mary Kay West

Steve Bowers reflects on his playing days with Coach Shaffer.


Photos by Mary Kay West

Terry Wilson, left, and Coach Gary Shaffer.


Photos by Mary Kay West

Tom Bath, left and Chuck Bath.


Photos by Mary Kay West

Former Washington Blue Lion head basketball coach Gary Shaffer was feted at a reunion dinner Saturday, June 15 in the Washington High School gymnasium.

Several dozen former players were on hand to honor Shaffer and renew old friendships with former teammates.

Dale Lynch, former athletic director at Washington High School, served as the master of ceremonies.

The evening began with a prayer from Pastor Tony Garren.

Then came the dinner from Rachel’s House Catering.

After a while, it was time to begin hearing from Shaffer’s sons and former players.

Gale Shaffer addressed the audience, followed by Steve Bowers.

Moe Pfeifer spoke about the practical joking aspect of his relationship with Shaffer, including an incident with a shelf full of apples.

John Denen, brought the Blue Lion experience full circle as Shaffer came back to help coach the Lady Lion varsity team for a couple of seasons.

Shaffer also coached the Washington Middle School basketball team and is currently the basketball coach at Fayette Christian School.

Gayle Carter gave her thoughts on her time as a teacher and friend of Shaffer’s.

Earlier in the evening, there was shown some footage of one of the Blue Lion teams playing back in the mid-70’s.

After Carter spoke, the crowd enjoyed seeing some video-taped footage of the 1993 Regional semifinal tournament game against Cambridge. That was the game in which then junior Travis Robertson, having taken the in-bounds pass from senior Greg Wall, put up a shot from near half court at the buzzer that banked in for three points to lift the Blue Lions to a 58-57 victory over the Bobcats.

Robertson then spoke about his time in the program and reminisced about ‘The Shot’.

Greg Phipps, who was head girls basketball coach when Shaffer returned to coaching as his assistant, spoke about playing as a kid with two of the younger Shaffer brothers, Grant and Gale and how he would hurry back to his house when Coach Shaffer came home. Like many people over the years, he was intimidated by Shaffer, until he got to know him later on.

Marc Haugen and Danny Mahoney spoke, as did Gary, Grant and Greg Shaffer.

Blaise Tayese, who played for Shaffer in middle school, delivered some of the final remarks of the evening.

Shaffer thanked everyone for attending. He especially thanked his wife, Jean, for organizing the dinner, which had been in the planning stages for about a year. He expressed his love and appreciation for his former players, as they did him.

He also recognized his mother, Dorothy Shaffer, who was on hand, remembering a time when she walked to his house in West Virginia in a deep snowfall after he had previously begged off visiting her because of the excessive snow.

Many of those who spoke and no doubt most, if not all of Shaffer’s former players who did not speak publicly Saturday, hold Shaffer in tremendous regard. Many times someone mentioned that Gary and Jean Shaffer would often attend graduations and funerals as well as just showing up to offer support when someone they knew or had played for them was going through an illness or other tough times.

Shaffer, now 75, does not appear to be slowing down much at this point as the Hall of Fame coach continues mentoring young people at the Fayette Christian School.

Several dozen former Blue Lion basketball players turned out to honor coach Gary Shaffer Saturday, June 15, 2019. A reunion dinner was held at the Washington High School gymnasium. (front, l-r); Kenny Knisley, Gary Mount, Herb Sollars, Gary Shaffer, Kenny Upthegrove, Brandon Gray, Craig Copas, Blaise Tayese; (second row, l-r); John Denen, Vic Pontius, Jeff Wallace, Jeff Downs, Marc Haugen, Rob Pittser, Shad Bartruff, Dustin Pfeifer; (third row, l-r); Eric Clark, Gale Shaffer, Evan Upthegrove, James Carr, Chad Wise, Travis Robertson, Tyler Robertson, Colt Sever, Jeff Smallwood; (fourth row, l-r); Grant Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Greg Shaffer, Steve Bowers, Danny Mahoney, Corey Dye, Brian Southward, Trent Shaw, Jerry Mount; (fifth row, l-r); Keith Eckles, Cameron Eckles, Greg Wall, Tom Bath, Mychal Turner, Terry Wilson, Steve Phillips, Doug Phillips, Rick Nichols, Jim McDonald; (back, l-r); Griffin Shaw, Jeff Shaw, Mark Heiny, Kyler Mount, Tom Bath, DeHart Foster and Steve Pritchet.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Group-pic.jpgSeveral dozen former Blue Lion basketball players turned out to honor coach Gary Shaffer Saturday, June 15, 2019. A reunion dinner was held at the Washington High School gymnasium. (front, l-r); Kenny Knisley, Gary Mount, Herb Sollars, Gary Shaffer, Kenny Upthegrove, Brandon Gray, Craig Copas, Blaise Tayese; (second row, l-r); John Denen, Vic Pontius, Jeff Wallace, Jeff Downs, Marc Haugen, Rob Pittser, Shad Bartruff, Dustin Pfeifer; (third row, l-r); Eric Clark, Gale Shaffer, Evan Upthegrove, James Carr, Chad Wise, Travis Robertson, Tyler Robertson, Colt Sever, Jeff Smallwood; (fourth row, l-r); Grant Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Greg Shaffer, Steve Bowers, Danny Mahoney, Corey Dye, Brian Southward, Trent Shaw, Jerry Mount; (fifth row, l-r); Keith Eckles, Cameron Eckles, Greg Wall, Tom Bath, Mychal Turner, Terry Wilson, Steve Phillips, Doug Phillips, Rick Nichols, Jim McDonald; (back, l-r); Griffin Shaw, Jeff Shaw, Mark Heiny, Kyler Mount, Tom Bath, DeHart Foster and Steve Pritchet.

Former Washington High School Athletic Director Dale Lynch served as master of ceremonies for the reunion dinner.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Dale-Lynch.jpgFormer Washington High School Athletic Director Dale Lynch served as master of ceremonies for the reunion dinner.

(l-r); Tony Tyree, DeHart Foster and Tom Dean.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Dewey-Foster-DeeHart-Foster-and-Tom-Dean.jpg(l-r); Tony Tyree, DeHart Foster and Tom Dean.

Washington High School’s all-time leading male scorer, Dustin Pfeifer, who scored 1,722 points in four seasons.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Dustin-Pfeifer.jpgWashington High School’s all-time leading male scorer, Dustin Pfeifer, who scored 1,722 points in four seasons.

(l-r); Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Tooill, Karen Epifano, Nick Epifano and Gary Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Nick-Epifano-and-wife-Karen-with-Gary-Nicholoas-and-Christopher.jpg(l-r); Nicholas Epifano, Christopher Tooill, Karen Epifano, Nick Epifano and Gary Shaffer.

(l-r); Dewey Foster, Gary Mount and Mark Heiny.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Gary-Mount-Mark-Heiny-and-another-fellow.jpg(l-r); Dewey Foster, Gary Mount and Mark Heiny.

The Gary Shaffer family at the reunion dinner Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Washington High School. (l-r); Greg Shaffer, Gary B. Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Jean Shaffer, Gale Shaffer and Grant Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Gary-Shaffer-family-pic.jpgThe Gary Shaffer family at the reunion dinner Saturday, June 15, 2019 at Washington High School. (l-r); Greg Shaffer, Gary B. Shaffer, Gary Shaffer, Jean Shaffer, Gale Shaffer and Grant Shaffer.

Coach Gary Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Gary-Shaffer.jpgCoach Gary Shaffer.

Dorothy Shaffer, right, Gary Shaffer’s mother, chats with Marc Haugen.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Gary-s-mother.jpgDorothy Shaffer, right, Gary Shaffer’s mother, chats with Marc Haugen.

(l-r); Jean Shaffer, Jack Clark and Gary Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Jean-Gary-and-Jack-Clark.jpg(l-r); Jean Shaffer, Jack Clark and Gary Shaffer.

Jeff Shaw, left, catches up with Mychal Turner.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Jeff-Shaw-and-Mychal-Turner.jpgJeff Shaw, left, catches up with Mychal Turner. Photos by Mary Kay West

(l-r); Jeff Smallwood, Tyler Robertson and Travis Robertson.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Jeff-Smallwood-Tyler-and-Travis-Robertson.jpg(l-r); Jeff Smallwood, Tyler Robertson and Travis Robertson. Photos by Mary Kay West

John Denen spoke to the crowd at the Gary Shaffer reunion dinner Saturday, June 15, 2019.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_John-Denen.jpgJohn Denen spoke to the crowd at the Gary Shaffer reunion dinner Saturday, June 15, 2019. Photos by Mary Kay West

John Taylor, left and Gary Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_John-Taylor-and-Gary-Shaffer.jpgJohn Taylor, left and Gary Shaffer. Photos by Mary Kay West

Rick Nichols, left and Steve Pritchet.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Rick-Nichols-and-Steve-Pritchet.jpgRick Nichols, left and Steve Pritchet. Photos by Mary Kay West

Steve Bowers reflects on his playing days with Coach Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Steve-Bowers.jpgSteve Bowers reflects on his playing days with Coach Shaffer. Photos by Mary Kay West

Terry Wilson, left, and Coach Gary Shaffer.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Terry-Wilson-and-Gary-Shaffer.jpgTerry Wilson, left, and Coach Gary Shaffer. Photos by Mary Kay West

Tom Bath, left and Chuck Bath.
https://www.recordherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/27/2019/06/web1_Tom-Bath-and-Chuck-Bath.jpgTom Bath, left and Chuck Bath. Photos by Mary Kay West

By Chris Hoppes

choppes@aimmediamidwest.com