AKRON – There isn’t much short of saying Jeff Shriver was what Tippecanoe Valley represents. A fighting spirit, a sarcastic yet conservative tone, a family man, a loyal friend, someone who will challenge you to be better.
He always had his Valley jacket on. It was who he was. He joked just before his daughter, Shayleigh, was recognized on senior night that he was forced to ‘clean it up’ and wear nice clothes during the recognition. He did. He was there for his family.
Shrive, as many refer to him, was the figurative and sometimes literal face of Tippecanoe Valley. He once joked he was perfectly suited to be the school’s mascot, he just needed a Viking horn cap. Photos have surfaced in recent years of him wearing that hat around, likely on a bet. He was the calm of a school four years ago when the community was hit hard with the losses of Scott Bibler, Charlie Smith, Scott Smith and Tony Elliott. He didn’t shy away from providing comfort for those who needed it.
Shrive was one of the predominant faces of the athletic department, a servant to the Death Valley football brand in good times and bad. He was thrust into tough situations in recent years when he program needed an interim tag on multiple occasions to get the ship heading back in the right direction. He also wore the jacket well when the startup Unified Flag Football team not only won a sectional, but rode to a state finals appearance in its first year. He was so proud of that run, and the sectional title won again last fall. He also took great pride in his roles with track and the archery club, the archery role almost perfectly written for him.
Valley football was his calling. So much so, the old press box became a hunting blind of his out in the bush. Why not?
He was a first-rate teacher. Current and former students, whether they were the ‘cool kids’ or the ‘quiet ones’ or somewhere in between, they had a story to tell. He had a unique way to connect with people.
His stories are legendary, and abundant. Here are a few from some who knew him best:
Rita Price, WRSW: “Jeff Shriver was bigger than life. The moment he entered the room or got into the conversation, everything changed. He loved being a teacher and coach. He had the ability to make you believe anything can happen if you work hard enough. His sense of humor was amazing. He could find fun in any situation. I often told him he should write a book on things that happened when he was head football coach. Hearing him tell a story was so much fun. Jeff loved his family, football, his students and his friends with all that was in him. A mountain of a man with a heart that matched. You don’t replace people like Jeff Shriver, you just thank God he was part of your life. Gone way too soon.
Tim Keffaber, WRSW: “Jeff was a guy you would never forget once you met him. He lived life to the fullest and I loved the stories he would tell on and off the air. Good, better, best was one of his sayings, and he truly lived that way.”
Kory Stoneburner-Betts, TVHS graduate: “As a former student and employee of Tippecanoe Valley High School, Shriver was one of my favorite staff members during my time at there. I loved the positive energy he exuded everyday. At one point, he told me he was one of probably several people who encouraged administration to hire me when I applied for a position as a custodian at TVHS while I finished college. I guess you could say he played a part in getting me where I am now. I’m forever grateful for that. However, as a former custodian, I feel for the person who has to clean out his classroom. It seems like Shrive never threw anything away.”
Mallory Eaton, former TVHS volleyball coach: “The Shriver Family has always had a special place in my heart. Jeff had one of the most electric personalities I have ever encountered. His energy was unmatched. He mentored me in my coaching, teaching, and always supported me. I grew closer with them through having the opportunity to coach with Janie and coach Shayleigh throughout her high school career. When I think about Valley, I automatically think about Jeff. I admired his coaching style and tried to imitate it. He was the first person I called every time we had a big game and we needed inspiration. It was his gift. He truly is a Valley legend and I know my life was better because of him. Heaven gained an amazing man far too soon.”
Steve Moriarty, TVHS football coach: “He is a loyal Viking. His passion and loyalty defines him as a man. He’s always been very faithful in doing the right thing and guiding other towards that light. He was a great coach, but he also was that father figure that needed to be there. Just the sheer fact of his love for Valley — not only football but for the community in which he served — was above and beyond. The loss of him will be felt forever. We’ll never be the same. I think that his willingness to sacrifice time away from his family and just to give to these kids to make sure that they were always steered in the right direction sets a good example for all of us, how we should live our lives to improve others.
“He embodied the spirit of Valley. When he talked, people listened.”
Duane Burkhart, former TVHS athletic director: “Shrive was the pulse of Valley. He’d do anything for the kids. One thing he enjoyed was the unified flag football, he was so happy to work with them. He was so proud of that. You would be hard pressed to find a varsity football coach who would coach that, most wouldn’t touch unified flag football. It showed his character. When you take a look at Jeff Shriver from the standpoint of an athletic director and friend, he made life so much easier because he was always available. I can’t believe we lost Bibs and Shrive in a four-year span, along with Charlie and the others. It’s been a tough decade for the Valley community. We’ve shown a lot of resilience in dealing with so many of these huge losses. It’s hard to deal with, but he’s leaving a lot of great memories and showed so many what it’s like to be a great family man and leader in a school.”