DISTANT, Pa. (EYT/D9) – The year 2015 was a big one for Redbank Valley Area High School graduate Devin Shumaker.
(Photos courtesy of Chatham University Sports Information.)
Not only did he help the Bulldogs win their first District 9 title in basketball since 1980, but he also helped them to advance to the PIAA quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
His 11.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.6 steals per game helped him to earn third-team All-District 9 honors, an honorable mention for the Tri-County Sunday/Courier Express as a senior, and helped get him noticed by a collection of college coaches. Ultimately, he decided to head to Pittsburgh and continue his basketball career at Chatham University, a private university in Pittsburgh that began enrolling guys in 2015 for the first time.
“The chance to grow with a program from the very beginning and help it reach new heights was something that was unique to Chatham,” said Shumaker. “It felt similar to high school in that we could grow together as a program and team. It was a unique situation where there was no established program or representation for Chatham basketball which made me hungry to compete for a chance to play from the start.”
The 2015-16 Chatham Cougars men’s basketball program featured just one sophomore and 14 freshmen by the season’s end and won just five games on the season. However, to be among the final 15 players when there were around 40 guys who went to workouts to begin the preseason is quite an accomplishment in itself.
The Chatham men’s basketball team over the next two seasons showed improvement, but the 2016-17 and 2017-18 squads could not quite get “over the hump” as many would say. However, heading into Shumaker’s senior year, a lot about Chatham basketball changed. Not only was there a coaching change at Chatham, but there was also a change for Shumaker from player to student assistant coach.
“It was a really difficult conversation to have, but I decided to embrace the opportunity to start my next chapter in sports and basketball and become a coach. I really did end up enjoying seeing the game from that side.”
Staying with the program proved to be a great decision as the Chatham Cougars went on a historic run in the Presidents Athletic Conference (PAC) tournament that saw them win their first-ever PAC playoff game in a 55-54 home win over Washington and Jefferson, defeat favored St. Vincent College in Latrobe, 54-51, and then defeating Westminster College in New Wilmington by a final score of 64-61. Winning the PAC tournament meant punching a ticket into the NCAA Tournament for the first and still the only time in program history. While it may not have been how he pictured his college basketball career to finish, he helped bring two programs a championship in his senior years.
As previously mentioned, 2015 was a great year for the Clarion County native as this was also the year he learned of the opportunity that he could play collegiate baseball while at Chatham. The baseball program hoped to compete in the 2015-16 school year, but unfortunately, they were not able to get enough players to field a team beyond nine guys.
The 2016-17 school year saw the program expand its roster and go from playing two exhibitions to about half of a schedule. Shumaker’s junior year was the first time that Chatham baseball had the chance to compete in an NCAA sanctioned contest, and Shumaker went straight from basketball season into baseball season without a great deal of practice.
“It is doable to play basketball and baseball, but it is honestly really tough. I had been practicing basketball almost every day for months and then had to head to Myrtle Beach to get ready to pitch. I was glad to have the opportunity because I really did still have the desire to play baseball as well at the time.”
Heading to Chatham meant the opportunity to explore several different potential career choices, but once he learned about the exercise science program, he knew this was an area of study he could excel in. What started as an interest to hopefully work in sports has turned into a six-year journey through higher education as the former Bulldog standout is nearing the completion of his Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree at Chatham.
So far, he has completed clinical rotations in Leechburg, Pa., and Natrona Heights, Pa., and has an opportunity to complete his final clinical rotations in Greenville, North Carolina, at Young’s Physical Therapy. This private practice will allow him to gain knowledge of what it is like to work with Division I athletes as East Carolina University has a working relationship with this practice.
Additionally, it will be some of his first experience working in private practice and not in a hospital setting – something that interests him and will allow him to entertain the idea if he would ever want to open his own Physical Therapy business one day. One other certification he holds is a CSCS (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist), meaning he has the distinction to be able to also work as a strength and conditioning coach for a university or sports team.
“Overall, I am really looking forward to learning from these specialists because they have people working at this practice who are so specialized they take care of injuries to specific body parts. They also are big on strength and conditioning which is another aspect and interest of mine.
“I just hope this experience helps me grow and learn and also will help me become a better professional in the long run.”
To get to this point, Shumaker is thankful for a collection of people including many from the 2014-15 Redbank Valley boys basketball team.
“This team and friend group got along and still gets along in a way that most teams do not. Coach (Greg) Bean had and still has a special way to connect with his players and getting the most effort and talent out of everyone.”
Additionally, Shumaker gives the most credit to his parents, Joan and Bryan, for helping him to get to this chapter in his life.
“When I look back on my time in college sports, the best thing I took was learning a new role in sports that I had never had when I was in high school. It made me appreciate everyone it takes for a program or team to have success. The lessons I learned as a college athlete and some of the failures I experienced I never would have learned if I was a started all four years of college.”
In December of 2021, Shumaker will graduate from Chatham for the second time, but this time, with a doctorate-level degree.
He is hopeful to pass his boards later in 2021 or in early 2022 in order to begin his first full-time role as a physical therapist. It was not always the path he saw for himself, but nonetheless, the former Bulldog standout is sitting in a great place to become a sports physical therapist for many years to come.