Catching up with Pete Shinnick: Argos football coach

By Steve Likovetz
Staff writer

After finishing his first season as the University of West Florida Argos head football coach with five wins, Pete Shinnick begins his second season leading the Argos to a 2-and-1 record.

Coach Shinnick came to UWF in 2014 with a career spanning 25 years. This week, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk about some of his philosophies on coaching, academics and starting a new program. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation.

Steve Likovetz: What has been your biggest challenge since becoming the Argos head football coach?

Coach Shinnick: “Starting a program in and of itself is a challenge, and so just trying to raise awareness of all that goes into a football program. There’s a lot of moving parts, I don’t think people understand how hard our athletic department works just to host a home game off campus downtown. I don’t think people understand how hard it is to go out and attract players that fit your university’s standards and ideals in a short amount of time. I would say the task of getting the name out and all that goes into running a program.”

 

SL: What is your philosophy of coaching and its relationship to education?

S: “Well, were in college and we feel like one of our goals for our team and one of our goals for players is that they get a degree in four or four and a half years, just depending on when they use their eligibility. A degree is central to the experience. That’s why we’re in college.  It’s not pro football, so we have done everything to make sure that guys understand what that looks like, and at the same time, it’s one of the great things about West Florida.  It’s a great place to get a degree from, great education and well respected.”

 

SL: How does the recent success of UWF academically affect recruitment? Has it helped attract players?

S: “It is something that we are using in this recruiting class. Our university is one of the top in the state, and you may think you are going to a better place, but you may be going to a bigger place but you are not going to a better place. Bigger isn’t always better.”

 

SL: Being a new program, what kind of recruitment challenges have you faced?

S: “At the beginning, we had to educate people on who we were and what was taking place. Oh yeah, we heard that and then until we played we had to educate them on what that was going to look like. Playing a season last year, very helpful, getting people to our home stadium, very helpful, getting people on our campus, very helpful. All that plays into the experience of what recruiting looks like.” 

 

SL: Besides being their coach, how do you see your role in these student-athletes lives?

S: “You want to be a positive influence on them and that’s what I see all of our coach’s job is. To impact and influence these guys in a positive way, give them great knowledge and wisdom to help them live a better life. One of the foundations of our program is to help each young man become a better husband, father, employer, or employee. A lot of that is by the interaction with our coaches. We have great men coaching and understand what that looks like.”

 

SL: How do you address educational or discipline issues in your program?

S: “Well, multiple ways.  A lot of it is through educating guys on making wise decisions.  One of the things we talk about is don’t do anything to embarrass the team. Put the team first. Be smart about your actions. If you put the team first in all your actions, then you are not thinking of yourself, and if you’re not thinking of yourself then you typically don’t do things that aren’t representative of that. We also talk about that there are two names that you represent, your family name and the UWF football name. It’s one thing if a UWF science student goes out and does something.  No one will probably ever know. If it’s a UWF football player, it’s probably going to land in the newspaper.”

 

SL: What are your most rewarding aspects of this specific coaching job?

S: “I think they are yet to come but the most rewarding right now is how the community, how the student population, how the faculty have just embraced our program. Very thankful for that.”

 

SL: What are some differences, positive or negative, between this year’s team and last year’s team?

S: “I think we are a more mature team, and I think we are further along than a year ago. Whether that results in wins and losses, I’m not quite sure at this point.  I like the growth we’ve made. I like the strides we’ve made and it takes a long time to build a program unless you go out and get a bunch of transfers. I like where we’re at and I like what we’re doing this year.”

 

SL: What would you like the students, faculty, and fans to know about you, your staff and your players?

S: “Number one, we are excited to be a part of this community and excited to be a part of University of West Florida. Number two, we want to be able to put a product on the field and off the field that represents UWF in a positive manner.”

 

Coach Shinnick continues this season on Saturday, Sept. 30 by taking the Argos to Melbourne to take on the Florida Tech Panthers.