Though he actually increased his scoring, University School senior Pat Shedlock also
embraced his responsibilities on the defensive end this season. And that, in turn,
aided the Preppers in their run to the state championship. Shedlock, a center, tallied 149 points the last three years.
Cleveland sports fans know all about the philosophy that one can’t maximize his contribution to a team or realize his full athletic potential without becoming a lock-down defender.
Just ask Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. His emergence as a defensive force has helped make him the favorite to earn NBA Most Valuable Player honors in 2009.
On an albeit smaller and far less glorified stage, the same holds true for University School hockey player Pat Shedlock. Though he actually increased his scoring, the senior center also embraced his responsibilities on the defensive end. And that, in turn, aided the Preppers in their run to the state championship.
The Huntington Bank/Ohio High Magazine Player of the Year explains:
“Physically on the ice, I didn’t change anything, but I did play the defensive zone a lot more,” Shedlock says. “I became much more aware of the defensive zone whereas in my junior year I was so offensive-minded and I wasn’t worried about the defensive zone.
“At first it was hard to get use to it and I really didn’t like it, but I realized that our team was really a defensive team and if we could take care of our zone and just put a couple goals on the board, we could win a lot of low-scoring games. And as it turned out we got the first state championship the school has ever won.”
The Preppers finished the season at 31-6-3, which is a testament to their motivation from the opening face-off of the first game to the final celebration. They had been badly disappointed after falling to Mentor in the 2008 districts and vowed to play every game this season as if it were their last.
Shedlock sure did. He scored 68 points, which included a goal and two assists in a thrilling state semifinal victory over St. Edward. Eighteen seconds after the Eagles snagged a 2-0 lead a Shedlock goal gave the Preppers momentum they would ride to a 3-2 victory. The 3-0 title-game win over Toledo St. John’s was almost anti-climactic.
“We lost that district game last year to Mentor and all the juniors from that team didn’t want that to happen again,” Shedlock says. “We got up mentally for every game we played this year. We took the same mindset into every game no matter who we were playing. We took the same attitude and aggressiveness into every game.”
Shedlock played for Lake Catholic as a freshman, which made his two-goal performance in a district win over the Cougars far sweeter. He transferred to University before his sophomore year, in which he scored 36 points. He tallied 45 more his junior season before blossoming in every aspect of his game in 2009.
One man who fully appreciated the transformation was University coach Bill Beard.
“Pat is definitely one of the best and certainly the most skilled player I’ve had in 11 years here,” Beard exclaims. “He always had the skill, but this year he had more determination than ever. It wasn’t just his offense. His defense was phenomenal. He was our top plus-minus player this year. He played defense so much better. Couple that with his offensive potential and it was truly a great year for Pat.”
Beard added that Shedlock contributed both off the ice and in practice by keeping things loose with his sense of humor. Shedlock enjoys making others laugh, but he insists there was a method to his occasional madness.
“I wasn’t one of the captains and I didn’t try to be the guy who pumped everyone up by giving speeches,” he says. “I tried to lead by example. I tried to keep my composure and be confident whether we were up 6-0 in the third period or if we were in double-overtime, like we were against St. Ed’s. And when things we’re stressful, I tried to say something funny to loosen everyone up. It’s all about keeping your composure and you can’t do that if you’re all stressed. You just hold the stick tighter and don’t play as well.”
Despite his brilliance on the ice, it’s his talent on a mound that he will take to the next level. A lights-out left-hander, Shedlock struck out 46 batters in 38 innings a year ago and has earned a scholarship with Cleveland State.
“Baseball was the sport that ended up working out for me,” says Shedlock, who plans on majoring in accounting. “I love both sports, but one of my goals was to play a college sport. I was fortunate enough to have been pretty talented in two different sports, but baseball was the one that worked out.”
That means the organized hockey career of Pat Shedlock just might be over. But if it is, he sure went out on a high note.