Shane Fry knew he wanted a career as a physical education teacher and coach, but he wasn’t sure which sport he preferred.
No more than two days into his stint as an assistant football coach at Tecumseh Jr. High, Fry had his answer.
“That’s when I knew that was it,” Fry said.
The West Lafayette Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved Fry’s hire as the Red Devils’ new head coach on Wednesday.
Fry succeeds Marshall Overley, who retired last month following a 12-year tenure that included the 2009 Class 3A state championship. That was Fry’s first season as defensive coordinator, and as Overley considered retirement , the expectation was that Fry would take over.
“He has all the attributes of leadership,” said Overley, who lauded Fry’s extensive football knowledge and calm but firm demeanor with the players. “I’m very glad they decided to go that way. I know he was going to be a great head coach somewhere, so I’m glad he’ll be our head coach.”
Fry grew up in LaGrange and played quarterback, safety, kicker and punter for Lakeland High School. He attended Purdue before joining Tim Fogarty’s staff at Tecumseh, then moved steadily up the ranks over seven seasons at West Lafayette.
“We’ve had a lot of success the last several years, and Shane’s been a big part of that,” West Lafayette athletic director Brock Touloukian said. “Why make changes? He’s a guy on the staff who’s done things the right way and earned a chance to take over the program.”
West Lafayette returns several starters from last year’s 6-4 team, including running back Maurice Woodard, quarterback Parker Ronchetto, lineman John Duvall and defensive end Jade Doty.
When the Red Devils graduated several key players following the 2008 season, Fry defiantly predicted the 2009 team would be a 15-0 state champion. It was, and Fry wants the program to return to those heights.
“This last year left a bad taste in our mouth,” said Fry, who teaches physical education at Cumberland Elementary. “Especially the first-round (sectional) loss. We didn’t know what to do when we were done playing in mid-October. It was very different for us.”