Shawnee State Athletics announced on Friday the promotion of former four-year letterwinner and assistant coach Devan Scarberry to the seat of head coach, as announced by athletic director Jeff Hamilton.
Scarberry, who played under former head coach Susan Shelton from 2011 to 2014, served under Shelton from 2015 to November 2019 — when the latter retired from the sport.
She has been handling the day-to-day operations of the program as the school’s interim head coach upon her official promotion to the spot last week.
Overall, Scarberry proved herself as a talent capable of impacting multiple lines on the volleyball court.
The four-year talent from nearby Northwest High School sits tied for sixth all-time in single-season serving percentage — a mark that she set during her freshman year in 2011 — and also sits 14th in career assists (700), 19th in single-season assists (593), and 20th in career assists per game (2.13).
In addition to her high standing on the volleyball court, Scarberry proved herself as a student-athlete and as a strong servant of the community.
She obtained All-Academic Mid-South Conference honors during her junior and senior seasons in 2013 and 2014, and won the Mid-South Conference’s Champions of Character Award during her senior year.
“We are very excited about hiring Devan as our newest head coach,” Hamilton said. “Devan comes from an outstanding family with an excellent background in education and coaching. She brings a wealth of knowledge from her experience playing here and from the variety of coaching experiences since she graduated. Devan is a fantastic competitor and a leader. I have great confidence that she will excel in her new role.”
“This is an amazing opportunity,” Scarberry said. “I wouldn’t have been able to reach this milestone without my family. My parents and brother are always willing to help me with anything that I need, and without them, this wouldn’t be possible. We have always been a very close family and supportive of one another. I am also extremely thankful to the faculty and staff at SSU for choosing me for this position. As a player, you always dream of what your first head coaching job would be like, and this is exactly what I pictured for mine. I have been a part of SSU for nine years now — four as a player and five as an assistant coach — and it has been a great learning experience thus far. I feel very honored to pursue my head coaching career at Shawnee State. It’s hard to imagine my life without SSU volleyball in it.”
Establishing a recipe for success
Prior to her time at Shawnee State, Scarberry starred in three different sports — basketball, softball, and volleyball — at Northwest.
She finished her high school career as the basketball program’s second all-time leading scorer, and helped lead Northwest to winning records in the volleyball realm during each of her four seasons as a student-athlete for the Lady Mohawks.
“There are many times I remember sitting at the scores table, during one of my dad’s basketball practices, doing my homework or studying,” Scarberry said. “We spent a lot of time at the school, so it was important that I used my time wisely. We had a 40-45-minute drive to and from school, so there were a lot of nights when we didn’t get home until 10 or 11 in the evening. There were a few occasions where we slept at the school due to a late return from an away game.”
Scarberry — who played under Northwest head coach Judy Bayes while in high school — credits Bayes, each of her former coaches and the Northwest community for molding her into the person that she is today.
“There is a special place in my heart for the Northwest School District and its faculty, staff and coaches,” Scarberry said. “My time as a player was spent playing volleyball, basketball and softball. When I wasn’t in the gym for my own practice, I was listening to my Dad coach his own team, or being active in his practices. Judy Bayes was one of the biggest influences in my volleyball career, as well as her assistant, Trish Boggs. They spent countless hours in the gym with me after practice working on my specific skills, then helped me pursue my collegiate career. To this day, there are many people in that district who have supported me throughout in my coaching career, and I am extremely grateful.”
Motivated by team-first attitude
Her four top-20 rankings in Shawnee State volleyball history are made even more impressive by the fact that Scarberry took on two different positions.
Initially slotted as a setter to begin her college career, Scarberry made the unselfish move to a right-side hitter before moving back to her primary position of setter prior to her senior campaign.
“I came into the volleyball program as a setter, but had to adjust to become a right side because that’s what the team needed at that time,” Scarberry said. “One of the biggest adjustments was the amount of playing time I was getting as freshman. I was used to being on the floor at all times, so I had to deal with that. By the time my senior year arrived, (Susan) Shelton approached me and asked me to transition back to be a setter for my senior season. I had to change my whole mindset again to be the “quarterback” of the team, but I did it because that’s what the team needed me to do. My time as a player helped me to develop a team mentality, which is something that I preach to my players a lot today.”
Soaking in Shelton’s knowledge
Between her time as a player and as a coach, Scarberry has not only contributed to 118 victories as part of the volleyball program at SSU, but has also formulated a successful volleyball club — the Southern Ohio Spikers — which has helped raise awareness of the sport in the area.
With her and SSU assistant coach Sydney Seth’s leadership, the program grew from one team in 2013 to seven as of the present day.
There are more than 70 student-athletes currently involved in the SOS program.
Scarberry credits her ability to develop the Southern Ohio Spikers to what she learned under Shelton — as the pair began to develop a personal friendship that would extend beyond the volleyball court.
“I really enjoyed my time coaching with Susan,” Scarberry said. “She was very helpful when I started the Southern Ohio Spikers. She was someone I really depended on when I was trying to get the organization off the ground. She was also someone I reached out to during my student-teaching. She is also an intervention specialist, so anytime we had a road trip and I needed help with a lesson plan or class activity she used her classroom experience to help me with that. Over the years, Susan and I have become very close friends and we have shared a lot of life milestones together. This will always be a friendship that I cherish.”
As Scarberry begins to put her own personal touch on the program, the 27-year old expects to continue recruiting the best student-athletes around — while competing against, and defeating, the best programs that the Mid-South Conference has to offer.
“The overall goal of our program is to mold these student-athletes into well-rounded individuals who will be hard-working and productive adults by the time they graduate,” Scarberry said. “We want to start that process by recruiting individuals who are sound student-athletes. We’ll be bringing in girls who have their academics in order and will take the student-athlete role seriously. We have many returners who set a good example for new recruits in this area. We also want to continue climbing the MSC standings as the years progress. Our girls have been working very hard this offseason and want to be a competitive force in the Mid-South Conference.”
For more information on SSU Bears Athletics, visit www.ssubears.com or visit the Twitter and Facebook pages at https://twitter.com/SSUBears and https://www.facebook.com/SSUBears. For more information on how to join the SSU Bear Club, visit https://givetossu.com/bear-club.