Shawley leaves loving legacy with students, staff

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BJHS teacher and coach Brenda Shawley (center) lost a long fight with cancer recently, but left a legacy of impact and influence on students and staff alike.

Ty Harris, Online Editor

On March 29, 2020, Brenda Shawley passed away at age 51 after a long, courageous fight with cancer.

Shawley was a P.E. teacher at Baldwin Junior High School for more than 20 years and also coached the volleyball, basketball and track teams. She was a staff member who was popular and well-liked by students and the community. She will long be remembered for her outstanding positivity, work ethic and ability to connect with her students and players.

“She made every athlete and student feel like they were an important part of the team and the school,” BJHS track coach and social studies teacher Eric Toot said. “The success our teams have had recently at the high school level are a direct reflection or her work and passion at the junior high level.”

Her players cherished the experience they had with Shawley as their coach.

“She gave 100 percent of herself to all her teams and classes,” junior Emma Grossoehme said. “She had a personality that was so easy to get along with and feel a connection to. Some people become coaches or teachers because they think it’ll be fun, but the second you saw that woman, you just knew it was her destiny. She absolutely loved her job and you felt it the minute you walked into a room with her. It was honestly such a special feeling.”

“I can remember her pushing us all to do our best,” junior Tavia Crowe said. “She saw improvement in everybody and treated everybody with kindness. She never gave up on anybody.”

“Coach Shawley was one of a kind,” BHS junior Brooklyn Chase said. “She always wanted to include everyone, she would say the more the merrier. Her personality speaks more than words can describe, it is just one that you could not forget.”

Shawley made a huge and lasting impact on all students and players who were fortunate to have her as a teacher or coach by instilling a love of the game and passion to succeed.

“I give a lot of credit to her for opening me to the sport of volleyball,” Grossoehme said. “She is the reason I want to play collegiate level ball because she pushed me to be my very best and never ever let me quit when things got tough.”

“She did not only make an impact on me as an athlete but several others,” Chase said. “She helped boost my confidence and she was the type of coach that believed there was something for everyone to do in a sport.”

Shawley made not only deep personal connections with her students, but with the teachers and coaches that worked alongside her, as well.

“I have so many great memories with Coach Shawley,” Toot said. “I coached many years of junior high track and basketball with her. We had the most fun watching our kids improve individually. We would talk about it after games and meets, win or lose. We always talked about what improvement we were seeing in our kids and that is what coaching is all about. I will truly miss her and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to work with her for the past 20 years.”

“Talking to Coach Shawley the day after a game was always fun because no matter how they played, she would find the positives and make you excited to see how they could improve,” BJHS math teacher Chad Scoby said. “I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Coach Shawley over the past 15 years. She was a wonderful person who will have a lasting impact for generations of Baldwin Bulldog students, staff and families.”

“Coach Shawley influenced many students and colleagues on and off the court at BJHS and in the community,” said BJHS teacher Sarah Johnson, who was both a student of Shawley’s and then a colleague. “She was a supportive mentor and you could always count on her for a smile. You could feel the love and the passion she had for her job daily. ”

Shawley’s influence and impact will not be forgotten in the Baldwin schools.

“She was so special to me and so many other students at Baldwin,” Grossoehme said. “She definitely has a legacy that will continue for years forward. Baldwin won’t be the same without her smile.”

Due to coronavirus restrictions, a celebration of life was not able to be planned at this time. Family members are hoping to schedule a ceremony in her honor in the near future.