Tigard celebrates life of longtime coach

Tigard basketball players present flowers to the wife and daughters of Shawn Alderman, the team’s head coach who died on Feb. 5. Adam Littman/Tigard Life
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Before Tigard boys basketball games, announcer Robert Pavlukovich would always greet Head Coach Shawn Alderman. 

It was never much. Usually a simple “good luck” or something else brief. A few years back before a playoff game, Pavlukovich couldn’t find the time to say anything so he didn’t. Tigard won, but after the game when Alderman saw Pavlukovich walking, he called him over in front of the rest of the coaching staff. 

“‘Don’t you ever not greet me before a game again. I don’t care how busy you are,’” Pavlukovich recalls Alderman saying to him. “I never didn’t greet him again.”

That was part of Alderman’s charm as a head coach. He had the ability to draw people in and make them feel welcome. 

Alderman died suddenly on Feb. 5. He was 52 years old and had spent nearly half of his life as a coach at Tigard. He was in the middle of his 25th season leading the program. Alderman was the coach during Tigard’s state title season in 2002. 

On Feb. 16, the school celebrated Alderman before Tigard’s game against West Linn, and Alderman’s impact could be seen and felt in the packed Tigard gym. More than 40 former players were in attendance wearing green ribbons in honor of their coach. The stands were also packed with family and friends, as well. 

Before the game, the former and current players stood at halfcourt and unfurled a banner reading “Shawn Alderman Court,” which was then placed on a wall in the gym. During breaks in the game, former players and admirers of Alderman signed the banner with well wishes, words of love, and thanks for his two-and-a-half decades of work at Tigard. 

Also prior to the game, a few players presented Alderman’s wife and two daughters with bouquets of flowers. 

On the court, the season hasn’t gone as the Tigers hoped. After the loss to West Linn, Tigard sat at 2-18 on the season. However, the players and coaching staff have found solace in the game. Even when Alderman died on Feb. 5, the players decided to go out and play their scheduled game later that night.

“It was so sudden and heartbreaking for everyone,” said junior Colt Ness. “For me and a lot of guys, basketball has been a chance to lose ourselves with our friends. For us, that’s what it’s been about.”

Senior Jason Amens said the last couple of weeks have been hard, but basketball has helped the team deal with their coach’s death. 

“We’ve just stuck together,” he said. “We push each other every day in practice.”

Stu Bailey has taken over head coaching duties. He has been on staff at the school for 27 years, and even went to Beaverton High School like Alderman, albeit at different times. He said it’s been key to try and keep things as regular for the players as can be, and to keep with the same routines as they’ve always had. 

“Tonight was rough. It was hard to do that,” Bailey said. 

He added that the number of former players and others who came out to celebrate Alderman spoke to his impact on the community.

“It shows how much people knew he cared about them and how much he cared about them, as well,” he said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Many who spoke or sent in stories talked about how Alderman was always looking to help his players. Amens said the coach would tell players to come talk to him if they were having a hard time, and you always felt like you could actually go talk to the him. 

“I’m really hard on myself, especially in basketball,” Ness said. “He would always tell me to smile. When I missed a shot, I would stay after practice and shoot it for a couple of hours. He’d come back, give me a hug and tell me to smile because I’d get so frustrated. It’s something I’ll always love about him.”

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