PORTSMOUTH — Winning inside of the classroom and outside of the classroom takes a strong mindset.
When one talks with Austin Hanshaw, it’s certainly clear that the Chapmanville, W. Va. native has a good idea on how to handle adversity and life.
The sophomore has not only established himself as Shawnee State’s No. 1 tennis player in singles and makes up one-half of the second doubles team at SSU, but is also an aspiring environmental scientist.
“Being a part of the men’s tennis program at Shawnee State has given me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing tennis at the collegiate level — all while receiving a great education.”
At Chapmanville, Hanshaw, who didn’t start playing school-associated tennis until the seventh grade, needed only one full school year to become the team’s No. 1 seed at the singles position — and later earned that spot during all four years of his high school career.
By the end of his senior season, Hanshaw had set the record for most wins by a male student-athlete (137) and had tied the record for most wins in school history by any tennis player.
During his senior season, Hanshaw advanced all the way to the WVSSAC (West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission) Class AA/A state semifinals in singles competition, and did one better in doubles competition by advancing to the WVSSAC Class AA/A state finals alongside teammate Levi Adkins.
Hanshaw and Adkins, in doubles competition, defeated Lincoln County in the state semifinals to advance to the finals.
The Tigers, as a team, finished third overall in state tournament action.
“It was the best experience,” Hanshaw said. “I started playing for Chapmanville Middle School in seventh grade, and at the time, I didn’t know that I was going to build such long-lasting friendships with teammates and coaches, achieve a record-breaking high school career, and help build the boys tennis program into a state title contender. I played as the No. 1 seed in singles in eighth grade and all four years of high school. I was blessed to play an amazing sport while being supported by a great school, great coaches, excellent teammates and an amazing community.”
Along with his work in tennis, Hanshaw also was an integral part of starting the Chapmanville boys soccer program.
As a member of the first two units in school history, Hanshaw proved to be a cornerstone, ultimately becoming a second-team all-Cardinal Conference talent in his senior season.
“I was on the first-ever soccer team during my junior and senior seasons,” Hanshaw said. “That was an awesome experience that I got to share and start with my friends.”
With his success as a high schooler evident, it was only a matter of time before schools took notice.
However, Shawnee State’s appeal and Steve Boone’s genuine interest was intriguing to Hanshaw.
“(Steve) Boone found me on the NCSA recruiting site,” Hanshaw said. “Once he contacted me, I looked up Shawnee State on the Internet. I really like what I read about the school. Coach Boone invited me to come and watch a team practice and meet some of the players. I liked Coach Boone and the players immediately. He mentioned that he was working on building the men’s tennis program, and I knew I wanted to be a part of the building process. I thought that I could contribute immediately to the team.”
Upon learning more about SSU, Hanshaw saw similarities that Shawnee State and Chapmanville had — in particular its attention to each of its students on campus.
“I come from a small, rural community and high school,” Hanshaw said. “Once I visited Shawnee State, I knew that the size of the school was perfect. It wasn’t too small, but it also wasn’t too big to where I would simply be a number in a class. There I learned about the West Virginia Scholar’s program where Shawnee State offers in-state tuition to incoming West Virginia students that meet certain academic requirements. That along with qualifying for a Merit Award and a nationally recognized program, made me excited to become a SSU Bear.”
Since making his way to Shawnee State, Hanshaw has thrived academically and athletically.
In addition to being one of the men’s tennis program’s most important figures, Hanshaw has earned a 3.03 GPA as an environmental engineering major after initially deciding to major in game programming.
“I found out that game coding wasn’t really for me,” Hanshaw said. “However, I also really like science, so I looked through the programs offered at Shawnee State and found environmental engineering. I switched my major and found my career. I’ve really enjoyed the classes that I’ve been able to take, the knowledge that I’ve gained through those classes and my classmates, my professors, the tennis program and the entire school as a whole.”
With his first two years having completed, Hanshaw’s simply focusing on making his final two years as good as — if not better than — his first two academic years at SSU.
This includes continuing to help the Bears in their desire to make an ascent up the conference ladder from a men’s tennis perspective.
“Academically, I want to graduate from Shawnee State with a environmental engineering degree to go along with a minor in environmental sciences,” Hanshaw said. “Athletically, I want to train and practice so I can help my team win conference matches and have a winning season. I want to show prospective athletes why becoming a SSU Bear will be one of the best decisions of their lives.”