By Nicole Maneatis
For 43 years, Doc Scheppler has coached the Pinewood basketball program, leading the team to numerous state championships and league titles. This year, he added another accolade to his list of accomplishments, being elected coach of the decade by the San Jose Mercury News.
In the last days of 2019, the staff of the Bay Area Preps Headquarters, a local organization which reports on high school athletics, selected Scheppler from a pool of prominent girls basketball coaches in the Bay Area, including Archbishop Mitty’s Sue Phillips and Bishop O’Dowd’s Malik McCord.
According to Vytas Mazeika, a sports reporter for the Mercury News, Scheppler was chosen for Pinewood’s repeated victories in high-pressure settings, upsetting high-ranked teams like St. Mary’s-Stockton in 2016 and Archbishop Mitty in 2018. Under Scheppler’s guidance, the team has also won multiple CIF Division V state titles in the past decade, tipping the balance in his favor, Mazeika noted.
From the beginning, Scheppler coached basketball for his love of the sport, as he wanted to be just like the great coaches he looked up to, he said. Scheppler not only runs basketball drills but also makes a personal impact in young athletes’ lives, according to senior Natasha Thompson, who has been coached by Scheppler for eight years. As a varsity girls basketball player, she said she grew to become a competitive and conscious athlete under Scheppler’s guidance.
“I have become an athlete who knows what the pursuit of excellence looks like, and I strive to make the most out of every practice and every game. I have learned to compete,” Thompson said.
Scheppler added that he has faith in the girls, holding high expectations for them beyond their graduation.
“I hope they will look back on their years here as a very positive experience and use basketball as a vehicle to become a great person, to be responsible, attentive,[confident], and mentally tough,” Scheppler said.
Scheppler believes that leaving Pinewood with those characteristics will make them successful in any aspect of life, not just basketball, he said.
In addition to Scheppler’s personal impact on the girls, his accomplishments regarding wins and championships are also remarkable. In the summer of 2011, Scheppler was the shooting coach for professional basketball player Jeremy Lin; in the past decade, the girls basketball team has received the Norcal Open Championship and the CIF Division V state title multiple times. Thompson believes that Scheppler’s success pivots on his emphasis on perfection.
“Doing a skill 98 percent right isn’t good enough [for him]––it has to be done 100 percent right to be the most effective. He knows what it takes to win, and how to set us up as a team to put us in a position to win. I will miss his sense of humor, his true joy of being a basketball coach, and his love for the game,” Thompson said.