Austin Shafer working as Blue Jays girls soccer coach
Shafer previously played for the boys team at Jamestown High School.
JAMESTOWN — When he finished his playing career at The University of Jamestown, Austin Shafer knew he wanted to stay in the game he loves and so he decided to stay local. Shafer has been spending the spring as an assistant coach on the Jamestown High School girls soccer team.
“I wanted more experience going coaching so that was a big reason I decided and once my old teammate at JHS (Colton Altringer) got the heading coach job and asked me about it, I had to think about it for a while but I decided it would be a good idea,” Shafer said. “I play on coaching in the future, it’s good experience right now. (It is) kind of a different perspective because it’s high school soccer and it’s girls high school soccer but it’s been fun.”
The Blue Jays staff is full of former Jimmies as Shafer is joined by head coach Colton Altringer and assistant coach Danica Brekken. The three are all recent college graduates as Shafer graduated this year, Brekken played for the Jimmies from 2015-17 and graduated with a master’s degree in 2022 and Altringer graduated in 2021. Altringer said the playing experience that the coaches have helps them because they are able to see both sides of the game.
“There’s two, I would call it, emotional sides to it, we still have that player emotional side to it, where we’re as young as we are and even Brekken who played at UJ for a moment too, where she and us understand that connection to the game,” Altringer said. “We’re still young enough where we still have that drive and that passion, as well as, as we’re getting away from that chapter in our lives, we’re understanding the coaching side.”
Shafer said the girls have come to him for advice because of his experience playing college soccer.
As of May 22, the Blue Jays are 4-3-2, while giving up nine goals on the season, pitching four shutouts. Shafer has been serving as a goalie coach for the team. He said his experience shooting against goalies has helped him teach the goalies.
“It’s been awesome so far, stepping a little bit outside my comfort zone working with goalies,” Shafer said. “It’s been really fun, but a different experience, different side of the game for sure. But it’s been really really fun and I didn’t think I’d have an experience like this.”
Altringer said he and Shafer’s approach to the game complement each other well as they can each concentrate on the two different sides of the game. This season, the Blue Jays have scored 13 goals.
“Austin brings a side of the game that I’m not stronger with, my playing career in college and how my brain works, I’m more defensive-minded, so when it comes more to the offensive side, Austin really understands it,” Altringer said. “Of course, him having a really successful career as a player and especially what he did this fall for UJ, almost breaking the long-time regular season goal-scoring record. It’s a great addition where that’s a side of the game that I’m not strongest with and Austin can help understand and bring the best out of our players.”
Shafer said he has learned a tremendous amount from his time with the program about dealing with adversity. Altringer said Shafer’s personality and his ability to relate to the players are his best skills as a coach.
Once the Blue Jays season is over, Shafer will not be finished in the sport as he will be playing for the Colorado International Soccer Academy before coming back to his hometown to be a part of Jimmies head men’s soccer coach Connor Campbell’s staff. Outside of working with the Blue Jays this spring, Shafer is working at the Jamestown Country Club. Shafer said the biggest differences between coaching the college game and the high school game are the quickness of the game.
“I would say the speed of play. It’s a little different, you gotta adjust to it, expectations as well, being realistic about playing ability and playing speed, of course, it’s different naturally,” Shafer said. “But college is different….having an understanding of both is important, I’d say.”