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CHS football coach brings teaching expertise to coaching

Back in 2003, when Claremont’s newly-hired head football coach Shane Hile was an assistant coach at Damien High School, the school’s longtime athletic director, Tom Carroll, pulled up in a golf cart in the middle of practice.

“He said, ‘Coach Hile, get on the cart,’ and I thought ‘uh oh,’ because usually that meant you’re in trouble,” Coach Hile shared during a recent practice at CHS. “So I am racing through my mind, what did I say?” But the two drove out to the baseball field where Mr. Carroll told the young defensive line coach that he should really consider a teaching career. But Coach Hile was reluctant.

Mr. Carroll persisted.

“Well I’d have to go back to college and all of that,” Coach Hile told his boss. “So he said to me, ‘Let me get this right, the only reason you don’t want to become a teacher is because you don’t want to go back to school?’ and I was all, ‘Pretty much.’ And I will never forget that moment, because it changed my life. He’s sitting there, and he’s a big guy, he snaps his head around and says, ‘Will you quit being so damn selfish?’”

That, apparently, was the nudge Coach Hile needed. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2007 from the University of La Verne, followed by a mild-to-moderate special education credential in 2010, also from La Verne.

Nine years ago he was hired to teach history in the special education program at CHS and is currently pursuing a master’s in history at National University with an emphasis on social Darwinism.

“I just love the kids in special ed. They are just as capable as anybody else but they see things a little differently and need a little assistance. And that is the fun challenge for me, to find what is the best way for [a student] to learn. It’s exactly like that out here on the football field,” he said.

“Whether it is the classroom or the football field, you have to find a way to make the kid learn. Once you find that way, it’s just awesome, and they do well,” he added.

Since he was hired in February as head coach, he has revamped the football program, including hiring new assistant coaches.

“More than half of my coaching staff are kids I coached over at Damien. They are in their mid-20s and are very hungry with a lot of college football background. I feel really good about that,” Coach Hile said.

The young coaching staff’s lack of experience may hurt a little bit, but they make up for it with their knowledge of the game, according to Coach Hile. He also wanted coaches who would set a good example for the student athletes.

“Forget Xs and Os, forget about football. The first and most important thing when hiring a coach is that you’re getting a good person to be a good example for these boys,” he said. “That was, hands-down, my biggest priority.”

It would be impossible to ignore that Coach Hile inherits a program that experienced turmoil recently, with the abrupt and controversial termination of Coach Jose ‘Coco’ Jarin, along with the lackluster 3-7 performance last year.

“It’s hard to talk about that, because I wasn’t here,”?he said. “I hear stories, I don’t know what is true and not true. I don’t really focus on that. What I focus on—and again it keeps coming back to my number-one priority with these boys—is to make them the best individuals they can be. Period. Especially with this group we are staring at right now, the freshmen.”

Some new rules exist under Coach Hile’s leadership. If a member of the varsity team is unable to go to practice, they must contact the coach before to present a good reason for their absence.

“We talk about how this is just like your job, and if you just missed work and did not notify your boss, you are going to get fired.”

Coach Hile was defensive coordinator at Claremont for six years when Mike Collins was head coach. The two will be reunited, now that Mr. Collins has replaced Rick Dutton as CHS’ athletic director.

“I am super excited about that because I worked with Coach Collins for six years,” Coach?Hile said. “I know Mike well and obviously he knows football and can assist a new coach. It’s a great fit, I think.”

Mr. Hile, who lives in Upland, has a son Anthony Hile, 27, and a daughter Alexandria Blakeney, 26. He also has two granddaughters Jaylynn, 4, and Aliyah, 3, who are his daughter’s children. Among some of the new coaching staff hires include his son, who will serve as defensive coordinator for the Pack.

In addition to the six years he coached at Claremont, Coach Hile put in 10 years at Damien and three at Upland. This is his first time as a head coach.

“It’s all about these boys,” he said. “We just want them to be the best versions of themselves, and if that translates to playing football later, then that’s great.”

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com