Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

HPA’s Stan Shutes, an end of an Era in BIIF cross country and track

Stan Shutes
One thing that we all have in common, no matter rich or poor, in good health or bad, is that everyone will eventually die.
“Life is never predictable and dealing with the difficult times takes emotional strength and courage to nurture and expand relationships,” Stan Shutes said.
Shutes believes that he is in perfect health, despite having Stage IV melanoma.
Shutes was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 1979 when he learned for the first time that he had a serious illness as compared to the few basal cell skin cancers he had removed in the past.
“The diagnosis made certain things more important to me,” Shutes said. “Classes I taught became more important as did the kids I taught and many alumni. Relationships became paramount to me.”
Prior to teaching and coaching at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Shutes served in the U.S. Army for 5 1/2 years as an Army Ranger. His illustrious career as a teacher and coach at HPA is just one of the benchmarks of this outstanding individual who has dedicated the last 34 years to helping youth develop into productive citizens.  
“At age six I liked to attend the local high school football games with my father, who was in the U.S. Army Air Corps, no matter what town his base was near,” Shutes said. “Those are my earliest memories of sports.”
Shutes learned early on about physical fitness when he found himself the only child left in the school yard.
“School ended early one day and my dad hadn’t gotten the word to pick me up at a different time, so I started to walk home,” he said. “My dad finally found me a half-mile from our house after I’d walked four and a half miles by myself.”
Shutes claims that he can still remember walking home at age 5.
“It was quite an adventure,” he said.
Growing up in the South San Francisco area, Shutes’ education came in the San Mateo School District where he participated in basketball and track.
“In the 50’s there weren’t a lot of sports offered,” he said. “I was not big enough for football and couldn’t hit a curve ball.”
Shutes won a competitive congressional appointment to West Point. While there, he represented his cadet company in boxing, water polo, golf, tennis and softball.
“I wasn’t good enough to make the varsity basketball team,” Shutes said. “My first year at West Point the football team was undefeated and ranked third in the nation, led by senior Pete Dawkins, the Heisman trophy winner and one of the  seven seniors who were named Rhodes Scholars that year.”
During his four years at West Point, then President Dwight Eisenhower twice visited and addressed the 2,500 members of the Corps of Cadets.  
General Douglas MacArthur, at age 84, gave his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” speech in the dining hall, just three weeks before Shutes’ graduation.
“I was exposed to men who were larger than life and who impressed me greatly,” Shutes said. “John F. Kennedy gave our graduation address.”
Shutes went on to complete Ranger Training at Fort Benning, Georgia and those that graduated, including Shutes, went on to U.S. Army parachute school.
After serving in combat missions in Vietnam, he and his wife, Sharon, were married in Honolulu in 1965.

It was during a rest and recreation visit from Vietnam to Hawaii that Sharon and Stan realized that this was where they’d like to return to live.

In 1968, Shutes completed his active duty obligations and returned to San Francisco to attend graduate school.
“I earned my M.A. in Southeast Asian History and under the advice of a friend who had attended Punahou School, I applied to HPA and was hired by its longtime Headmaster, James M. Taylor,” Shutes said.
When Shutes came to HPA in 1969 all teachers were required to coach three sports and he was assigned to the to the football, basketball and track programs.

The following year Hawaii Prep lowered the coaching requirement to two sports. The school also became co-educational and he was assigned to boys cross country and track.
“Learning to be a good coach was easier in cross country because it was only one event,” he said. “Track consisted of 16 events and it was necessary to be knowledgeable in all 16.”

Shutes became an outstanding coach, winning 36 league titles, and two state titles: boys cross country in 1983 and girls’ track in ’95. Six times his teams were the state runner up. The ’83 win was HPA’s first state championship in any sport.
Now, 70 years of age and married to Sharon for 46 years, the couple’s two children, Andrew and Christina, have given them five grandchildren.

In 2005, Shutes’ disease metastasized and he has received treatment and participated in trials, for the most part, through The Angeles Clinic in Los Angeles.
“I have been fortunate to receive several of the melanoma drugs that have received attention in the media recently,” Shutes said.
Despite his disease, Shutes has remained engaged in life as he golf’s twice a week with his friends, even if it means riding in a cart and putting a few greens.

“Stan told me that he did not want his disease to control our lives,” Sharon said. “He has made sure this did not happen. His sense of humor has never left him and it has allowed us to have frank discussions about what some might find uncomfortable topics.”

For Stan Shutes, his one major disappointment in all of this has been that he may not be able to fulfill one special role.
“My role as grandparent to my five grandchildren may not be fulfilled,” he said. “I always wanted that important role to include skipping rocks with them in the ocean, feeding them ice cream for breakfast, and searching for four leaf clovers together.”

Shutes is currently under hospice care at his Waimea home. But no matter what happens in the short-term future, his decades of teaching and working with others, young and old, plus his lifelong experiences and love for family, only underlines how much he has meant to those individuals and teams he has shared time with.

Related link: Stan passed on 9/9/11 https://waynejoseph.wordpress.com/2011/09/10/long-time-hawaii-prep-coach-stan-shutes-succumbs-to-cancer/


September 3, 2011 - Posted by | Profiles | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. How fortunate we were to have been able to share valuable moments in sport and academia. Mr. Shutes is fine example of success in life and a definite cornerstone of the HPA familly and will live on in some shape and form. My deepest feelings of support to your family and thank you for posting

    Comment by patrickdh | September 3, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story about a great man who lived a wonderful life sharing his talents with many.
    How wonderful to have the HPA track named for him he will always be remembered
    by all that know him.

    Comment by RAJ | September 3, 2011 | Reply

  3. Very touching story that brought tears to my eyes. Sounds like such a wonderful, giving, caring person who did so much for those around him. Great story!

    Comment by Jaclynn | September 3, 2011 | Reply

  4. Stan, I’m having a “Cream Soda” now in toast to you my great coach! Thanks for all the driving. Both figuratively and literally! Love & much Aloha, David Goodman. “77.

    Comment by David Goodman | September 3, 2011 | Reply

  5. Thank you for this wonderful story. I was fortunate to be one of those runners he coached (decades ago), and his impact on my life is immeasurable. He truly one of the most extraordinary people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. A true leader in every sense of the word. Happy I’ve been able to see both him& Sharon a few times in recent years. Two of the strongest, most positive people ever. Stan you will be forever missed but never forgotten.

    Comment by Deb | September 3, 2011 | Reply

  6. A beautiful tribute to a wonderful teacher, colleague, and friend who guided so many of us with his genuine love, care, and concern.

    Comment by Teri Chong | September 3, 2011 | Reply

  7. My mom Judy gave me this blog to read yesterday at my son Ross’s 25 kilometer cross country race. My mom is Sharon Shutes cousin. Our family has been been keeping informed of Stan’s fight with this illness for a number of years now and I and my wife Marion read this blog with sadness. Stan and Sharon’s positive attitude is something of a legend in our family.
    I have been a runner since I was 18, although not competitively I have truly enjoyed the benefits of this sport. Now my son Ross aged 16 has just started running competitively and has benefited greatly from our local track club’s coaches. To see Stan’s coaching achievement’s and relate them to the confidence I see blossoming in my own son through this sport, makes me realize what a positive influence Stan has had on many young people’s lives. As I am a Boy Scout leader I believe that to get involved with youth and teach them how to have fun through focus and commitment is one of the greatest gifts a person can give to their community.
    I hope to one day come to Hawaii and run on Stan’s track with my son Ross.
    All our thoughts and love go out to you Sharon,Stan,Christina,Andy and your families and friends. From cousin Terry and family in Campbell River B.C.
    P.S. to Stan, Ross finished his first half Marathon on Texada Island last week, he came in 6th with a time of 1 Hour 39 Mins. He was 9th in the 25k trail run.

    Comment by Terry Waters | September 5, 2011 | Reply

  8. Being a “faculty brat” at HPA and growing up with the Shutes family, I feel like I’m losing a member of my family. I dont know what to say, the loss will be huge. Stan, we will all miss you terribly, but are so grateful and privileged to have been guided, taught and coached by you for so many years. Mahalo nui loa. Lisa Hall ’84

    Comment by Lisa | September 10, 2011 | Reply

  9. Best coach I ever had, coached me for track in 11th and 12th grade, always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself…Very sorry I missed the funeral and the internment, down sick, but my aloha to Mrs. Shutes, Andrew and Christina, love you, and I know that Mr. Shutes is not far away, coaching us from another place. malama pono,

    Comment by Linda O'Brien | September 26, 2011 | Reply

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