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.