Coach Shane Walton ‘98 is one of the most distinguished student-athletes to ever grace the athletic fields of Bishop’s. He’s been involved with the Knights off-and-on since 1993. A two-time captain in football and soccer, he earned four letters in both sports and was a three-time all-Coastal League pick in football. He was also a selection for all-state in football his senior year, catching 47 passes for 826 yards, returning 41 punts for 1,002 yards (24.4 average) and contributing to a team that won three consecutive CIF Division IV titles. As a senior, he was conference athlete of the year in football and soccer. He was a four-time all-league pick in soccer while scoring 45 goals and netting 25 assists and played on club soccer teams (The Nomads) that won under-16 and under-17 national titles.
Upon graduation, his legend continued when he earned a scholarship to play soccer at Notre Dame. That’s when things got interesting; in South Bend, Ind., he got his soccer coach to introduce him to head football coach Bob Davie. Plot twist! Take a gander at this TLR exclusive, as we welcome Coach Walton back to the soccer pitch.
TLR: This is your life, Shane Walton! Tell us about your hometown, your family?
Coach W: I grew up right here in San Diego, came to Bishop’s in the eighth-grade and finished my high school career here. This place will always hold a special place in my heart; it really transformed my life. As far as family goes, it is just my mother and me. I had to really grow up fast as she often had to work two jobs. I had to learn to be responsible and take care of myself a lot. This has carried through to the rest of my life — not messing up and being ready to help, so we could continue on.
TLR: Who were your encouragers? Who got you interested in soccer and football?
Coach W: Mom was always my prime encourager. I don’t think she missed more than two games in my entire sports career! She was definitely a source of support and strength for me. As far as getting into soccer, the credit again goes to my mom. Because I was a crazy kid, she decided to get me out of the house to do stuff because I had so much energy! A friend of hers from work was coaching a soccer team, but I was too young to play; I was only three at the time, and needed to be four to qualify. But that coach let me play anyway!
TLR: How did you get so good at the sport, was that coach a mentor?
Coach W: Well, I definitely did not get good on my own. I remember being eight years’ old, and I was playing a year up; we were not that great, like a step up above rec, so I got my mom to put me in a harder league because what my team was doing was not much fun. Because I loved to compete, that played a big factor. It fueled my success. Also, the ability to be resourceful and humble. Understanding that I didn’t know everything and when I didn’t, I knew where to go to get help and where to go to get questions answered.
TLR: So, no one special or individual coach who spurred you on?
Coach W: Not really. It was all of my coaches; even some who weren’t the best, I learned from them.
TLR: At Bishop’s you played both football and soccer. What was that like? What positions did you play?
Coach W: In soccer, I played center-midfield in the thick of the action for Bishop’s. In club I played forward. I loved playing for Bishop’s. You know it was pretty special, nine or ten of my fellow teammates from the football team also played soccer, so we went from one season into the next. It was a lot of fun playing for Coach Sam Manneh, he was awesome.
TLR: He was a legend, right?
Coach W: You bet he was! A great motivator of people, and I think his biggest skill set was that he loved all of his guys. This was huge. And all of his guys loved him as well. Yes, he was one of my influencers, but I picked pieces of ideas and things from many coaches. I would always see something special about a person and thought, “Hey, I could add a piece of that to who I am.” I am a collection of a lot of people who I have seen do excellent things. I gleaned something from almost every person I came in contact with.
TLR: You played on the soccer team from 1994 -1998, tell us about those teams and the program. Were all four years good teams?
Coach W: Oh yes, we were a part of a string in which Bishop’s won 10 straight CIF Division IV soccer championships. I played a part in four of them. Our team was somewhere in the middle of that string; we were not the end of the line, I think there were a few that followed.
TLR: You played football, too! Eight-man or eleven-man football? How were those teams?
Coach W: It was 11-man football, and we actually had a really good football team. The team sported guys like Paul Stefani ’98, Khari Espy ’97, Derryl Williams ’97, Roy Clark ’97, and there were a bunch of guys who were solid football players. Many went on to play at the college level. Khari played at Pomona and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. Jeff Zures ’98 and Troy Dewitt ’00 split the quarterback duties and were at the helm for two years each during my stay. We were physical and we were fast. Our coaches were Bill Lekvold, and then Joe Lucia. (TLR note: In these years, Bishop’s had a 31-game winning streak and finished #1 in state Division IV, according to CalHi Sports)
TLR: Then you headed off to South Bend and the Golden Dome of Notre Dame. Did you have a little voice in your head about leveraging your full soccer scholarship into an entrée to football coach Bob Davie?
Coach W: The Notre Dame soccer coach, Mike Berticelli, knew I loved both soccer and football, so we worked something that I would play two years of soccer, but would also get the opportunity to go out for Spring football. I did not play football that first year; I only showed up for Spring ball and did well enough, so that the coaches offered me a football scholarship. So, I had the option of staying in soccer or moving over to football. The great part about this is they let me come out as a favor to Coach Berticelli without even looking at my film!
After the fourth or fifth practice, Coach Davie came up to me and asked how I would handle being offered a football scholarship. They brought my mom out to visit and we inked the deal. Coach Davie was a defensive genius who really taught me a lot about the game. He coached for my first three years and then Tyrone Willingham took the reins. I ended up spending five years in South Bend, as my first year of soccer did not count against my eligibility.
TLR: Your biggest moment on the field?
Coach W: My first time running out of the tunnel into Notre Dame Stadium was special and also my last game on the field. That first game was against Michigan and the last against Rutgers.
TLR: What has been your most significant sports experience?
Coach W: Last year I was able to take my wife, Jessica, and son, Isaiah, back to Notre Dame. It was the first time I ever thought about what I had accomplished. When you are playing, you don’t think about these things. It was really special to show them the campus and how genuine and nice people are there. It was also humbling to see what they had done — my picture was on the wall, they had my jersey hanging up and my helmet! It was cool for [my family] to see, and it was the first time I was proud of what I had accomplished.
TLR: As an aside, you also worked a significant job as part of Notre Dame security and carried your student studies load while competing.
Coach W: Yeah, that is true, and I kind of forgot about that. I was pretty busy.
TLR: What do you enjoy doing most when you have time off?
Coach W: I have two kids, I don’t have time off! Seriously, I love coming up on the field and coaching our players; I love the coaches I coach with, and the kids — the way they embrace the work that it takes.
TLR: Any favorite movies? Books? Why do you like them?
Coach W: I really like movies. One of my favorite things are puzzles. I like to figure things out, taking them apart and putting them back into place. My favorite movie is Mind Hunters. It’s about a bunch of folks learning how to be profilers for the CIA. You get a little bit of information at a time. It’s like a chain link, trying to figure out what a person is doing or like, just from body language. Crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, I like them all. Anything that helps you think strategically.
As far as books, I like success literature, like How to Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill, and even How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. These are time-honored books about learning the ins and outs of how to treat people. I like to be in win-win-win situations, where everyone comes away with something good. Life is not a zero-sum game. I also love books about Navy Seals.
TLR: Favorite food? Favorite restaurant?
Coach W: I love pizza! I also love Benihana, we go there for everyone’s birthday. It’s not just a great meal, it’s also a nice experience.
TLR: Words of advice for us?
Coach W: Don’t be afraid to be who you are. I think many times we are not genuine; we try to be our expected self, what other people want us to be. Just being your genuine self and true the that is more than good enough.
TLR: Best summer vacation or trip you ever took?
Coach W: The trip to Notre Dame was pretty much the best, as my wife and family got to see how I spent five important years of my life. I also treasure the time I’ve spent in Whitefish, Mont., at my mentor’s ranch on Whitefish Lake. It is right there at Glacier National Park, near Flathead Lake — beautiful country. The best part about being there is that the phones don’t work and everyone has to spend time with one another!
TLR: In a nutshell, what is your coaching philosophy?
Coach W: I have three rules. The first is always have fun. Number two is know your responsibility. The third is work your butt off! If you do those three things, you can play for me. Be yourself, be your best, be accountable to your teammates.
TLR: You have been coaching football at Bishop’s for nine years and have gone to two state championships; one we won, the other we lost. What was that like?
Coach W: Of course, winning in 2010 was great, but the loss last year, as bad as it was, became a good reality check on who we were. Even more so, our experience in the summer passing league at San Diego State really had a positive effect on our season. We started off with a loss against El Camino, a game we should have won. We came in all filled with ourselves and stuck on how skilled we were. That loss was like getting cold water thrown in our faces. We came back, won several great games — one against St. Augustine High — and then lost to powerhouse Mission Hills by a late score with seconds to go in the game. They were lucky to get out with the win, and the experience sharpened us.
TLR: Now you are taking over a program as only the third soccer coach in Bishop’s history, following 30 years of Sam Manneh and 17 of Malcom Tovey. How exciting is this opportunity and what does it mean to you?
Coach W: It means a lot to me. I just remember growing up never having a father figure, I learned a lot about being a man from my buddies and my coaches. Being in a position to do the same thing for other people — to teach them how to lead themselves and others; also, how to be led, is very important for me, I don’t take it lightly at all. I have already met with the team and explained to them that winning is not my first priority. I care about how the players grow as young men and then about winning the game. I learned a lot of this from Coach Manneh and knowing about the continuity of the soccer team carried on by Malcolm, I know there is a great legacy I have inherited.
Thanks Coach Walton for sharing this great story about your career and more importantly the long and strong connection with Bishop’s that you bring to this new role as our head boys’ soccer coach. You have learned from and played with the best and we all know that you will bring this to the pitch and we forge the future do Bishop’s soccer together.