“Do you remember me?” the man asked.
Shears didn’t at first, but as the man began to say his name, Shears broke out into a huge grin and the two men locked into an embrace.
“Jimmy Smith!” Shears exclaimed. “You were the start of us, buddy.”
The two spent several minutes reminiscing about “the good old days,” before Smith let Shears know just how much he learned from his old swim coach.
“What you did for me …” he said. “You gave me a path in life. That’s how I got by for 40 years.”
There were many such stories being traded in the hallways of Grand Haven High School on Friday night as Shears, along with former Buccaneer basketball coaches Al Schaffer, Craig Taylor and Bob Eidson were honored during halftime of the boys’ basketball game. They were presented with plaques commemorating their vast accomplishments, and permanent plaques were unveiled at the entrance to the gymnasium and the pool.
Here’s a look at the four coaches who were honored:
Shears spent 31 years as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator at GHHS, highlighted by his 21 years as varsity boys swim coach and 16 years as varsity boys water polo coach.
Nine of his teams finished in the top 10 at the MHSAA state meet. He coached three individual state champions and four runners-up, as well as four high school All-Americans.
He was named the Michigan High School Swim Coach of the Year in 1978 and 1979, and was inducted into the Michigan High School Swim Coaches Association Hall of Fame last year.
Eidson served as a coach at Grand Haven for 45 years from the eighth grade through varsity level. He was the varsity girls coach from 1979-86, leading the 1981 team to the state semifinals.
He was inducted into the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan Hall of Fame in 2018.
Schaffer came to Grand Haven in 1969 and remained here through the 1987 season. He notched 596 career victories, of which 231 came at Grand Haven.
He now serves as a volunteer assistant coach at San Diego State University.
Schaffer’s Buccaneer teams won three LMAC titles and two district championships. He was a nominee for the National High School Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Basketball Coaches of Michigan Hall of Fame.
Taylor took the reins of the Bucs’ boys basketball team in 1987 and led the program through 2004, when he retired with 242 victories.
Taylor’s Bucs earned three O-K Red championships, seven district titles and two regional crowns.
A reception was held for the coaches in the high school cafeteria following Friday’s game.