NEWARK (WCMH) – The city of Newark has rallied around the success of the Newark High School girls and boys basketball teams. The girls team is ranked No. 1 in the Division I A-P poll, and the boys team remains ranked in the top five. The Shumate family stands a big reason why.
J.R. Shumate has been head coach of the girls team for the past 14 years, and his daughter, Katie, is the second leading scorer for the Wildcats. His son, J.T. stands the second leading scorer on the boys team. And both teams often play in front of sold out crowds.
“Our town really loves sports in general and when a team starts rolling like our teams have they get behind them,” said J.R.
As a former player, coach, and father, J.R. has instilled his love of the game into Katie and J.T.
“He knows a lot about basketball, he loves basketball, and that love he has for basketball has helped me a lot,” said J.T. Katie added, “Since the first time I played basketball he’s been my coach, and I’d say it’s gone pretty well..obviously we’re very competitive together.”
As two of six children in the Shumate family, Katie and J.T. have grown up playing with their siblings and dad.
“We play two on two and I used to take Emma, our 8th grader, now I take Katie, ok, but it doesn’t matter we still lose because I can’t guard J.T., and I can’t score on him,” said J.R.
“He’s gotten so tall…and…I can never beat him,” Katie said with a laugh.
The girls team remains undefeated. “We have really good balance, we’re extremely unselfish, and the skill this year is just through the roof on our team,” said J.R. And J.T. and the boys have only one loss this season.
“Everybody said, it’s going to be a lot of pressure and not to think about that, but it does get a little bit hard, you know, you learn from it, and try and go out and win the next one,” said J.T.
However, all three know this is a special time for their city, and their family.
J.R. said, “This is a great moment, there’s no question but I remember when they were 3 4 & 5 years old, and they were great moments, but right now is definitely one of those times and I’m cherishing every moment.”