As I sit to write my January article, I am again pondering the legacy of a great man who exited this life too soon. In a similar storyline to the loss of Coach Brian Hooker at Rochester last year, Coach Jeff Shriver received a terrible diagnosis of cancer and in a very short time, he lost the battle to this awful disease. Couple this with the tragic plane crash that took Coach Scott Bibler and Coach Charlie Smith a few years back and we have lost three pillars of the Valley community in a very short time.
When we lost Shrive, I dialed up Hank Williams Jr. on Pandora to remember my friend. A song by George Jones came on, “Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes?” Of course, he was singing about the legendary country singers who had passed away, but the message of the song hit me as I pondered the loss of another Valley legend.
I did not know Coach Smith well, but Bibs and Shrive were impactful in my life. I credit a great deal of my personal success to these two gentlemen. After talking to many friends and colleagues at the service, these guys had the same impact on the lives of a multitude of others. It is said that leaders create a ripple effect. Shrive and Bibs sent waves, not ripples.
There were many great stories shared about Shrive in recent weeks and many echo the stories shared after Bibs passed. Everyone shared that Shrive made it a point to motivate you, challenge you to do better, encourage you, hold you accountable, and just genuinely show you that he cared. He always took the time to say, “What’s up?” Bibs and Shrive embodied the TVSC mission of leadership and character. They led by example because that’s who they were. They challenged you to be a better person because they believed in you.
I heard both men say many times on the football field, “next man up.” So who is next up to lead like this? Who is going to step into the role for the next generation of kids? Who will be the next “legend?”
You will NEVER replace Shrive or Bibs, NEVER. They were two unique human beings whose impact were significant to the lives of so many people. It is our duty as a school to build leaders like Jeff and Scott. We must develop leaders who will leave a lasting impact on the people they serve. We must continue to grow leaders who can change lives.
I heard it said at both memorial services, “We can honor their legacy by emulating their leadership.” I’m reminded of a quote from Abraham Lincoln, a vague stretch for context here of course, but Shrive would love it. “It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.” It’s time for the rest of us to use the time we have and the lessons we have learned from these great men to uplift and challenge the next generation of leaders. How do we do this?
Janie Shriver said it best so I’m going to leave you with some of her words, “Be like Shrive. I’d like to tell you what that looks like. Give 200%, Value and protect your family. Have high expectations of yourself and others. Help others anytime you can. Do it right the first time. Put down your phone and be present. Be honest – sometimes brutal. Show integrity. Let people know you care and appreciate them – even if you’re not feeling it that day. Ask God to direct your path. Fire Up the people around you. Listen to some Hank Jr.”