A farewell to a long-time coach, competing at state finals and having several games canceled due to COVID-19 exposure are just a few of the things that characterized last year’s boys’ basketball season. However, the 2021-2022 school year seems to be filled with new beginnings as the Coral Gables Senior High team and athletic department welcome Coach Armand Shoon to the court.
On an anticipated arrival, Coach Shoon met with the team on Oct. 11, sharing with them his expectations for the winter season and his past experiences with basketball. Understanding the trials and tribulations of the past year, Shoon made it a priority to bring the team together the moment he stepped into the gymnasium.
“One thing that is really big for me is family. I want them to know that as I come in here they are immediately my family. I have their back… and with effort, anything is possible,” Coach Shoon said.
Coach Shoon is familiar with basketball, having played since his junior year of high school and going on to play for Florida Gulf Coast University and later St.Thomas University, where he was Newcomer of the Year and an All-Conference player.
Shoon later received two professional contract offers to play for Brazil and Germany, but he was injured before he could accept any of these opportunities.
His injury did not dampen his love for basketball, however. He has since spent time coaching the sport on college teams. In his first year of coaching, Shoon was able to lead his team to the number one rank in the nation. In the national championships, his team made it to the top four, losing by a buzzer-beater that gave the opposing team a one-point edge.
As much as he values basketball, Shoon places heavy importance on the academics and motivation involved with playing sports. Shoon keeps his academic standards as high as his standards for performance in games.
“Whether you are a teacher or you’re a coach, you gotta love being around kids and want to get them to the next level. That’s one thing Coach Shoon had…he had the passion, he had the energy, he had the experience both as a player and as a coach,” Mr. Ullivarri said.
After years of coaching at the collegiate level, Shoon was ultimately drawn to Gables because of its community feel. Gables’ various academic and athletic programs are what brought Shoon in, reminding him that he is working with student-athletes whose best interests he has at heart.
Trying to keep up with last year’s accomplishments proves to be one of the major challenges for Shoon. Leading a team back into championships takes practice, which Shoon is ready to put in.
“It is always hard to go back to a championship, but it is a challenge that I’m going to place in front of each and every one of our players. That way they can rise up to the occasion and we can win another district championship this year,” Coach Shoon said.
Although Shoon has shared his techniques and strategies with the team, he has yet to disclose what he has prepared with others, leaving fans awaiting the first game of the season.
With official tryouts on Nov. 2, the boys’ team is preparing to bring all they have to the court. Both Coach Shoon and returning players have made it clear that this year’s basketball season will be one that is sold-out.
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