GRANTHAM -- The father of modern-day soccer at Messiah College has died.
Dr. Layton Shoemaker, former Director of Athletics and men's soccer coach at Messiah College, passed away suddenly Tuesday morning. He was 70.
Shoemaker coached the Falcons for 23 years, compiling a 316-96-27 overall record and two National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) championships (1978 and 1981). He also guided Messiah to two NCAA Final Four appearances, in 1986 and 1988, respectively.
In 1986, Shoemaker was honored as the NCAA Division III National Coach of the Year, the first such honor for a Messiah coach.
One of his former players, CBS 21 News Political Insider Charlie Gerow, says Shoemaker actually deserved that honor every single day.
"Layton was a friend and a mentor to every kid that came through that program," said Gerow. "He was the kind of coach that every father dreamed his son would have."
Gerow said he still met with Shoemaker for coffee or breakfast on a regular basis.
"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 in a statement. "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. 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.
"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."
Many of his former players later become head coaches.
"There's no question of his influence," said women's soccer head coach Scott Frey, another 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.
Some images and information used in this story are provided by Messiah College.