Messiah mourns the loss of Dr. Layton Shoemaker
Grantham, PA - Dr. Layton Shoemaker, former Director of Athletics and men's soccer coach at Messiah College, passed away on Tuesday morning of this week. His passing was unexpected, with Falcon Nation deeply saddened and shocked by the loss of a man highly regarded in the Messiah community.
"Layton Shoemaker was an excellent administrator and coach whose life and work exemplified the mission of Messiah athletics: 'Pursuing Athletic Excellence. Developing Christian Character.',” said Messiah College President Kim Phipps. “We will miss his presence in our community but we thank God for the significant influence he had on hundreds of Messiah athletes and friends of the College."
Shoemaker arrived at Messiah College in 1974 to become the fifth head coach in men's soccer history. In 23 years, he directed the Falcons to a .751 winning percentage, with a 316-96-27 overall record, eight NCAA tournament berths, and NCAA Final Four appearances in both 1986 and 1988. Two of his teams, 1978 and 1981, won the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) championships. In 1986 Shoemaker was honored as the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year, the first such honor for a Messiah coach. Under his direction, six Messiah players gained All-American recognition, 42 players earned All-Region status, and 67 players received All-Conference honors.
When he arrived at Messiah College, Shoemaker also assumed leadership as a faculty member within the Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department. He eventually became the Chair of the Department, a position he held until 1991. He was also named Director of Athletics for the Falcons in the 1970s and served in the position until 1996, the longest tenure of any Director of Athletics in College history. Under his leadership the Falcons transitioned into both the NCAA and the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC), with a number of Messiah's 22 varsity sports being added along the way.
In 1996, Shoemaker transitioned and served in the College's Development Office where he served in a variety of roles including Director of Special Projects, Director of Capital Projects & Parent Relations, and then as a Major Gifts Officer until he retired in 2000.
Considered the father of modern-day soccer at Messiah College, his teams certainly set the foundation for the present-day powerhouse men's and women's soccer programs.
“The Messiah College Athletics Department is deeply saddened with the news of Layton's passing,” said Director of Athletics Jack Cole. “Layton was the consummate professional who possessed extraordinary leadership skills. He was a mentor not only to student-athletes, but young professionals in the field of athletic administration. In all the years I knew him, I was impressed with the Christ-centered life he displayed with family, friends, colleagues and students.”
Though obviously accomplished in his work with Messiah College, Shoemaker will truly be remembered for his commitment to Christian integrity and character, especially in athletic competition.
“He was passionate about Messiah College, and Messiah College Athletics,” said men's soccer head coach Brad McCarty, a former player under Shoemaker. “He did a really good job of modeling his faith and demonstrating what it means to be a person of character. He was very principled in the way he lived his life, the way he coached, and how he led others.”
Undoubtedly, Shoemaker's legacy lives on through countless alumni, colleagues, and friends, with many of his former players entering into the coaching field by way of his inspiration.
“There's no question of his influence,” said women's soccer head coach Scott Frey, also a former player of Shoemaker's. “He always had a vision about excellence, and that included being excellent at both soccer and Christian faith. That's how he lived his life - he showed that you can be great in both aspects.”
Shoemaker was an active member and elder of the West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and is survived by Garie, his wife of 44 years, son Brent, and son Brett and his wife Vicky.
Those wishing to express messages of condolence can address
letters to 180 South Terrace Drive, Dillsburg, PA 17019.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent in the name of Coach Shoemaker to the following organizations:
- Hope International (if you wish to contact someone directly, please contact Peter Greer)
- Sports Outreach Institute (if you wish to contact someone directly, please contact Russ Carr)
- Forgotten Voices (if you wish to contact someone directly, please contact Ryan Keith)
- New Hope Ministries
Services for Dr. Layton Shoemaker will be held at West Shore Evangelical Free Church in Mechanicsburg, Pa., on Saturday, Jan. 5. Start time is still to be announced.
Family and friends are also encouraged to follow this story for the posting of a blog in which blessings, memories, and condolences can be expressed.
Messiah College Athletic Department