It’s Year Two of the Shore-to-Shore baton exchange of football head coaching duties at Camdenton High School. That’d be the passing of the keys to the tradition-rich CHS Lakers football machine from Missouri coaching legend Bob Shore to his son, former star QB and long-time assistant coach, Jeff Shore.
And frankly, even a year later, both are still in the process of settling in.
Because in Bob’s case, you just don’t walk away from something you’d done so successfully for 43 years – a career that produced 367 victories and still ranks him as the second-winningest coach in Missouri prep football history - without some lingering weird feelings.
“It was pretty difficult for me … I missed it a lot. An awful lot,” Bob said this week of last fall, his first season away from the sidelines. “I didn’t know how I’d take it, but I didn’t take getting out quite as well as I thought I would.”
Bob made the decision in May, 2011, deciding at 68 years old, it was simply time. He wanted to see what it was like “having nothing to do before I get too old to do it,” as he put it. And because he knew if he did, the program would be in good hands with his son, Jeff, ready and willing to become the man in charge.
Though for Jeff Shore, it wasn’t easy to simply slide into the big office and take over the reigns of a program built by his father, even though 15 years as a Lakers assistant, and another three or four as a key player – quarterbacking Camdenton to back-to-back state championships in 1986 and ’87 – certainly made Jeff ultra-qualified.
“I’d always just told him to stay and keep going, that I’d put aside my head coaching (dream) stuff,” Jeff says. “He and I have always had such a great relationship, and I just wanted him to stay because it kept him motivated and he was so good at it.”
Today, Jeff runs the show and Bob tries to stay out of his hair as much as possible, though you can find him in the football coaching office drinking coffee with the guys on most mornings, “even though it’s not my office anymore,” Bob says with a chuckle.
Most of his spare time is spent with wife Marilyn and their sports-loving grandchildren. But let’s clarify … Bob isn’t completely out of coaching.
In fact, Jeff convinced him to come back this year and serve as a coordinator of sorts of Camdenton’s junior high football program, helping young Lakers get down the basics of the same offense generations of great Camdenton players have run through the years. And due to some health issues within the coaching staff, Bob has spent a lot of time working with the seventh graders, a squad that includes one of his two grandsons (Bo).
But Bob made it clear, from the moment he retired, that this was Jeff’s football program now. He didn’t want to be casting a shadow over the transition, making it a point to avoid CHS practices because “If I get around it, I get ate up with it.”
And for the most part, Bob stayed away … at least once they were able to get him away. At one point last summer, a couple months after Bob had announced his retirement, a laughing Jeff recalls pulling an assistant aside and telling him “your sole job the rest of this summer is to somehow get (Bob) out of his office, because I’ve got to get in there and get started.”
The Lakers started slowly in 2011 – 2-5, to be exact – before a young team got better and put together a 7-6 final mark that ended with an appearance in the Class 5 state quarterfinals. The slow start didn’t make things easy on either Shore.
“When we were 2-5, everyone was coming up to me and saying, ‘what advice does your dad have on turning things around,’ and I said ‘he didn’t have any advice … he’s never been 2-5,’ “ Jeff recalled with a laugh. “I knew then I was on my own.”
With a veteran squad returning, big things are expected this year, though Camdenton (1-1) briefly stubbed its toe in a season-opening, 18-12 loss at Hillcrest.
Jeff, 43, says things feel different this year, all of the little things that might have caught him by surprise last year involving the new gig now on his radar and under his belt with a year’s experience.
“It wasn’t the coaching aspect of things, but more the extra stuff you do … the radio shows, interviews, demands on your time,” he says. “It’s nothing compared to college or the NFL, I’m sure, but it’s just different. And we’re a more experienced team coming back this year, so that helps.”
So, too, does the fact that the Lakers coaching staff is pretty much family. Jeff has either played with or for most of his assistants, a staff that includes his brother-in-law and former favorite wide receiver at CHS, Travis Ezard. They run pretty much the same stuff they did as former Laker stars, “just trying to do it in some different ways,” Jeff says.
This is a rivalry week for the Lakers, who host unbeaten Lebanon in a key Class 5 district game Friday night. And while he still has that “rivalry feeling” like the rest of Camdenton anytime they hook up with the Yellowjackets, Bob admits it's still vastly different.
“I think probably the biggest feeling for me now when I go to these games is I don’t have any control anymore,” he says. “I can’t get it under control. That’s a little bit of a helpless feeling.”
Still, he’s fairly close to the Laker sidelines on most occasions, watching from the track or on the sidelines outside the coaching box with his fellow retired coaching buddy and long-time assistant Mike Silverwood and others. And there is one advantage to his new “retired” status – Bob can celebrate a little bit more these days.
As the Lakers coach, he was always subdued after a big CHS play or score, thinking ahead to what the Lakers needed to do next.
“The funny part is we’ll get him sometimes in the background on film at the games and he’s roaming the sidelines, down around the goalline,” Jeff says. “We scored a touchdown late in one game, picked off a pass in the flat, and you can see him taking off sprinting down the sideline along with our guy with his arms up, signaling touchdown, going crazy. He shows more emotion now than he ever did as a coach.”
Perhaps because it means just as much to Bob, if not more, to see the Lakers succeed. That’s his son now on the sidelines continuing the family legacy, trying to keep the home folks happy when they come out on Friday nights to Bob Shore Stadium, named for the guy who won 367 games and five state championships in 36 years of creating and maintaining purple pride in the Lake of the Ozarks region.
That’s also why Bob, while admitting he has a thick hyde, will not sit in the stands on Friday nights now because “I didn’t want to listen to people.”
But, Bob says, it’s not nearly as gut-wrenching for him as it is for Marilyn.
“She’s always been into it, but she’s a lot more into it now,” Bob says.
“It’s a little more sensitive for her,” he added, before adding with a laugh, “she had a tendency to be a little more critical of me than she is of her son.”