Lane Community College women's basketball coach Greg Sheley is approaching his 600th career win
(Brian Davies/The Register-Guard)
By Chris Hansen
Greg Sheley came to Eugene from northern California nearly two decades ago seeking professional stability, drawn by the opportunity to coach, teach and raise a family in an area that didn’t require hours of commuting every day.
What he didn’t expect was the unprecedented level of success that would follow.
Beginning in 1999, Sheley has built the Lane Community College women’s basketball program into a regional powerhouse and now, midway through his 18th season at the school, a coaching milestone looms.
Lane is 11-2 this season, putting Sheley two wins away from notching the 600th victory of his coaching career. That includes a 161-67 record in seven season at Butte College in Chico, Calif., and a 437-112 mark at Lane, for an overall record of 598-179 in 24-plus years.
If Lane wins its game Wednesday at home against Southwestern Oregon, Sheley’s first shot at win 600 will come at home on Saturday against Clackamas.
“It makes you go, ‘Holy cow, I’ve been at this for a while!’” Sheley said with a laugh before a morning practice last month.
“That was not the goal getting out of the gate,” he added. “It was just to try to get into something that I love to do and have a passion for, and then find my niche. That has led me down this journey and I really am still enjoying what I’m doing.”
It would be hard not to with the kind of success he has had.
Sheley, 50 and a father of three, has had just two losing seasons in 24 years, with both coming at Lane when he went 9-17 and 14-15 in his first two seasons at the school.
He has since gone 414-80 with 15 straight seasons of at least 22 wins.
Sheley and the Titans have also thrived in the postseason. They’ve played in the Northwest Athletic Conference tournament every year since 2002, with seven championship game appearances and five titles, including last season.
“It shows the hard work and the dedication that the staff and players buy into is leading to successful seasons,” said Sheley, whose teams have also won seven NWAC South Region titles. “It just breeds that desire and passion and wanting to continue to be successful.”
Sheley credits his success to the stability of his coaching staff — assistant Kevin Grumbley, for one, has been with Sheley since his first season at Lane — and their ability to consistently recruit quality players, 50 of whom have moved on to play at four-year schools after leaving Lane.
“I think a lot of the kids who chose to come here have other options, a lot of them could go to smaller four-year colleges,” Sheley said. “We just try to show them the benefits of if you come here, you’re going to contribute right away and get a second opportunity to maybe go to the level that you think you should be at. That doesn’t always work out, but it’s an opportunity to play at a high level and move on.”
For everyone except Sheley, who found what he was looking for at Lane, where both he and his wife are instructors in the health department.
In 2007, Sheley also became the school’s athletic director.
“When I was coaching at Butte I was also a middle school teacher at a school that was an hour away,” Sheley said. “My wife and I were newlyweds, so it was no big deal because it was just the two of us. Then we had our first child and life changes and priorities change. I didn’t want to give up coaching, so I was looking for other opportunities and fortunately found this, where I could be an instructor and coach. … This job has very good for me and my family.”