‘Bows Co-Offensive Coordinator/TE Coach Ian Shoemaker Joins ‘Wake Up in The Den’ for Aloha Monday Sitdown with Ku’ulei Agbayani
BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 25, 2023
HONOLULU — Coaching has been part of University of Hawai’i offensive coordinator Ian Shoemaker’s life since he was growing up.
Heading into his second season with the ‘Bows, Shoemaker has accumulated over 25 years of coaching experience at the college level (in multiple sports, too). His experience being a leader and pseudo-coach came years prior to college, though.
He was once looked upon to be the one organizing his three younger brothers to go play sports outside when the crew grew up.
“We were a little bit out of control,” the veteran playcaller chuckled. “I was removed enough to be that older big brother that was able to move guys around, get them out to throw or go hit baseballs or go play catch.”
Seven years older than his next closest brother, Shoemaker would not only be around for the youth careers of his siblings, but also would get a chance to coach a couple of his brothers at the collegiate level for a stretch as well.
All four of the Shoemaker boys played college football, including eldest Ian, who was a college baseball player as well.
His journey began at Grinnell College, a Division III school in Iowa where he met his wife, Jenel, as a freshman on the football team. His friends had told him about the only other person they knew from Washington at Grinnell and promptly introduced the two.
After quickly hitting it off, the two found they had grown up just about 20 minutes away from each other, even discovering that Shoemaker played summer baseball with some classmates Jenel had known in high school.
“We went all the way to Iowa to meet and had grown up as close as we did was kind of wild,” Shoemaker smiled.
Years later, the couple has a pair of beautiful children living in Hawai’i while allowing Jenel to connect back to familial Hawaiian ties and giving Shoemaker a chance to continue living his dream of coaching collegiate football. Fitting for both to be happy with the move, as both have been together since the start of the journey.
Grinnell provided more than just Shoemaker’s future family though, as the education pushed him towards a degree in psychology rather than engineering. He admitted that the level he needed to be at for the engineering degree was different than he thought coming in.
He parlayed that bachelor’s degree in psychology into a spot in the master’s program at Western Washington, where he pursued a degree in Education, Health and Recreation with an emphasis on sport psychology.
Moreover, he knew he wanted to coach and saw a way to get his foot into the door of the college football job network. Coming from a smaller Division III institution without great higher-level connections, Shoemaker knew it would be tough to even break in.
Using a chance to chat with the head football coach at Western Washington while taking the Intro to Football Theory course as a graduate student, Shoemaker offered to volunteer during spring session with the football team as a tryout of his own for a role on staff.
Following a successful spring stint volunteering, he was rewarded with a graduate assistantship spot on the staff working with the tight ends and running backs. The Western Washington Vikings finished 5-5 that season, going 3-2 in conference play for a runner-up finish in the CFA.
While working as a GA for the football team and focusing on his degree and duties for sport psychology, Shoemaker took on another role. Working with the softball team for his sport psychology thesis, word of his baseball player-background got out and he was brought on staff for softball as the infield coach (and worked with right-handed batters, too).
The experience proved fruitful in more ways than one, growing his abilities as a coach in ways he hadn’t expected while also getting a national championship ring out of the deal.
While he found success in softball for the season, his desire was still to coach football. He found that his flexibility to coach multiple sports, though, made him a desirable target for smaller colleges.
At 25, Shoemaker took over offensive coordinator duties at University of Saint Mary, an NAIA school in Kansas, while also overseeing the baseball program at the school as the head coach.
The dual-role duty continued for the next three seasons at Minot State University, as he took over as the passing game coordinator for the football team and the head skipper for the baseball program.
While he enjoyed being the head coach and enjoyed baseball, he knew there were more roles for coaches in football than baseball.
He focused in on football, taking over coordinator positions with Kenyon College, Baldwin Wallace College and Saint Cloud University before he finally ran his own football program at Division II Central Washington (and found great success) as the head coach.
A jump to Division I football at Eastern Washington as the offensive coordinator was in the cards next for Shoemaker, helping guide an offense that averaged over 40 points per game in his three seasons with the Eagles.
Shoemaker talked more about his family and the move to Hawai’i, the hiring process and the story of Timmy Chang convincing him to come be a part of the staff, expectations heading into the season and much more.
Shoemaker brings a veteran voice to the room, someone else who has piloted a dynamic college football offense other than Chang. Together with a unified identity and players who are comfortable, the ‘Bows hope the two coaches can help guide another potent attack.
You can catch ‘Wake Up in The Den with Ku’ulei Agbayani’ live every weekday morning from 8-9 a.m. HT on 95.1 FM, AM 760 and streaming on hawaiisportsradio.com. The show is available after recording where most podcasts are, along with past OIA and HPU broadcasts and older interviews.
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