Pittsburgh, PA — There are so many factors to ponder when considering a coaching position and one of the most important is family, Lori Shrum is well aware of that. saw her husband Brian throw his name into the ring for Youngstown State’s next women’s soccer coach.
“My wife was a huge supporter of it, she was the driving force,” Shrum said. “When you have your significant other saying ‘go for it’, that gives you the assurance to give it a shot. That’s why I finally decided that was it.”
The Youngstown State job opened when Fabio Boatang resigned in early November and Shrum figured he had nothing to lose. Shrum was indeed proven correct Monday when he officially was hired as Youngstown State’s next women’s soccer coach.
“I really just took a chance,” said Shrum. ” I put my name in the hat and of course I got a phone call. Youngstown has intrigued me because it has all of the amenities that a student-athlete would want in terms of the soccer experience and they have a plethora of under-graduate programs that fit every need for a female student-athlete. For whatever reason, they have had a tough go of it the last 15 years. I thought that if I got a phone call, fits the budget, fits my family’s needs and it would all work out, I would consider it. I got the phone call for the interview and everything fit.”
Three steps of coaching
Shrum admits that he was one of those high school coaches who six years ago thought he had what it took right then to become a college coach. He now states that was not the case, upon seeing how hard that process.
“I had been coaching for a long time in the area, known a lot of the coaches and thought I could run a college program,” he said. “Lo and behold, I was nowhere near ready to be a head coach. The first two years I didn’t have what it took to run a program. I would have come in, fail miserably, been fired and never seen the day again as a coach. A lot of people get those opportunities that aren’t ready and then don’t do well.”
That was phase one.
Phase two came with Shrum resembling a sponge of sorts picking up ideas from Duquesne women’s soccer coach Al Alvine but also starting to branch out further to learn his own ways and incorporate those.
The final step came to fruition with this coaching search when he decided to go for the job.
“There became a time where you ask yourself the question ‘can I go any further’,” said Shrum. “Unfortunately in women’s soccer there is no way to go up. I think that’s when I asked if I had what it took and the only way to answer that question is to do it. This job became available and it’s close and that’s when the jobs started to go on giving this a shot.”
After that transformation, it was all about making sure the job proved to be the right fit. Something which it proved to be, though the proximity to Pittsburgh certainly helped as well.
“When I was called for an interview that was the moment where if everything fell into place I was going to go for it,” Shrum said. “There’s only 333 NCAA D-I college programs in the city and of those 333, maybe 2/3 of them have the resources that are truly needed to compete at a very high level and Youngstown is one of them. To actually get an opportunity to be a head coach in that environment, how can I pass it up?”
Shrum’s last day at Duquesne is Friday and then his coaching duties begin at Youngstown State on Dec. 18.
A close friendship
Every time you ask Shrum about his relationship with Alvine, he is unafraid to reference Shake and Bake from Talledega Nights.
To call Shrum Alvine’s “right-hand man” would not give the former enough credit for the imprint he left on the program.
The two frequently routinely visit Brugger’s Bagels where together the two would frequently assess the team and how to improve.
Alvine will be without Shrum and Ashley Magruda, who previously had accepted a college coaching job, meaning from a Duquesne perspective he will be rebuilding a new staff.
Despite this, Alvine was happy for his friend and Shrum reciprocated by explaining what this experience at Duquesne has meant to him.
“He gave me the opportunity to come to this level and I thought I never would have gotten to this level because I’m living in this area and there are only so many areas, so the fact that he gave me a shot as an assistant coach, I’ll be indebted for life for that, because now it’s spring boarded into this,” Shrum said. “He basically gave me a high five and said ‘congrats’.”
In this social media day in age, it was tough keeping Shrum’s new job a secret though both he and Alvine discussed it with players during one-on-one meetings.
“There were some that were teary-eyed, and others that are moving on that are glad it happened after they moved on,” said Shrum. “Change is hard and you look at the up-and-coming senior class and they are such a strong group that they’re not going to miss a beat.”
What will become an interesting sight in the future is when the duo will have to recruit against each other and maybe have a match. Youngstown State and Duquesne have faced each other the past two seasons.
“Al and I won’t be contending in terms of recruiting because he has his ’18, ’19 and some of his ’20 class already done,” said Shrum. “In the future, there are so many kids out here in the area in Western PA and you can’t take them all. We may be interested in the same players and it may come down to a small little variable that gets them to come to Duquesne or Youngstown. The great thing is Al and I have such a great relationship that we will talk about the same kids in the future we’ll talk about it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Shrum will still have ties to Duquesne during the Spring semester as he will teach his integrated sports performance class, an elective offered to seniors studying athletic training.
While Shrum does leave Duquesne, he leaves behind a legacy of making the women’s soccer team a strong force in the Atlantic 10. Making the A-10 Championship quarterfinals is no longer the ceiling for this team as proven with a 2015 NCAA Tournament appearance and the last two seasons have seen strong regular season play.
“It’s tough for me to leave a great program and leave Al and the girls but I think for me it’s an opportunity for me to go and see if I can run my own program and be successful,” Shrum said.