Ethan Shackelford knows he has some big shoes to fill, and he welcomes the challenge.
Last month, Shackelford was named the boys basketball coach at Eugene, replacing Hall of Fame coach Craig Engelbrecht, who coached the past 30 seasons at his alma mater.
"With tradition comes expectations," Shackelford said.
Shackelford comes to Eugene after spending last season as an assistant boys basketball coach at Capital City, helping the Cavaliers in their first season with just freshmen and sophomores.
"It was a different challenge that I liked," Shackelford said of Capital City. "Obviously, I had planned on being there for a few years before taking my next head-coaching job, but when Eugene opened up, that's what I was looking for."
Before Capital City, Shackelford was the head coach at South Shelby for two seasons from 2017-19. Earlier in his career, he was an assistant coach at Centralia, Warrensburg and Knob Noster.
One of Shackelford's reasons for leaving South Shelby to come to Capital City was to be closer to his hometown of Centerview.
"It was a very valuable experience," Shackelford said. "You take that job knowing there's going to be challenges that you probably haven't faced before."
Eugene is coming off a 20-7 season. The Eagles shared the Show-Me Conference championship with Fatima and St. Elizabeth and advanced to the Class 2 quarterfinals, falling one win short of their first Final Four appearance since 1992.
"When I started looking into Eugene when coach Engelbrecht retired, they've got great facilities, they've got talent coming back and young talent coming up, there's a lot of community support and the conference is a good conference to be in," Shackelford said. "There are a lot of different things I looked into that made it a very appealing place to go to."
Engelbrecht announced his retirement following the 2019-20 season, but Monday he came out of retirement and was introduced as the boys basketball coach at School of the Osage.
Shackelford, who turns 29 later this month, said he has not yet reached out to Engelbrecht since he was hired at Eugene.
"That's definitely on my to-do list," Shackelford said.
Shackelford's hiring was announced during the coronavirus outbreak, so he has yet to meet in person with his future players.
"It is very unorthodox," Shackelford said. "You would think, especially getting hired in the middle of April, I could go down there after school one day and meet the players, maybe even have some open gyms at this point, and already have a full summer schedule where we have some camps and shootouts and workouts and weightlifting scheduled.
"Everything has been put on hold because no one really knows how much we'll be able to do."
Shackelford plans to set up Zoom meetings with his players, starting with the soon-to-be seniors.
"I'm a big face-to-face guy," he said. "I like to go there, shake their hands, interact with them. To start a new relationship with these players, it's less than ideal, but technology is a great thing that allows that to happen with less-than-ideal circumstances.
Shackelford is also working on contingency plans for summer workouts.
"We're preparing as if we're going to do a lot of smaller group workouts within our program," he said.
Shackelford will teach social studies at Eugene, and he has also been named the high school's track and field head coach.