McCune to direct Shawnee Wrestling Program

Brian Johnson
The Shawnee News-Star
Andrew McCune

The Shawnee High School Wrestling Program means so much to Andrew McCune.

That may be a mild understatement.

McCune, a 2004 SHS graduate, was a three-time state qualifier and one-time state placer for then head coach Jeff Chamblin.

Upon graduation, McCune joined the United States Marine Corps, earned the status of sergeant and spent 9 ½ years serving his country, including three combat tours of duty – two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan.

While in battle, Sgt. McCune suffered a moderate traumatic brain injury after a bomb went off in extremely close proximity (McCune estimates 5-9 feet away from him). Tragically, Corp. Adam Jones, of Germantown, Ohio, lost his life in that particular blast.

For his courage and heroism, McCune received three Navy and Marine Corps Medals for Combat Valor and a Purple Heart.

“The first person I called (after the incident), besides my wife, was Coach Jeff Chamblin,” said McCune, who is now the new head coach of the Shawnee High School program, taking over for Nik Turner after Turner's two-year stint.

That's how much the program means to McCune and those, including Chamblin, who mentored him.

“It's an honor and a privilege. This program has taught me so much and was a positive influence on my life,” McCune said. “It's an honor to take over a program which has meant so much to me and my family.”

Now McCune will attempt to guide the tradition-rich program back to glory.

“Our biggest thing is to get back to Shawnee Wrestling. Growing up in this program was a family thing,” said McCune.

McCune is no stranger to the SHS wrestling program as a mentor. He started coaching elementary wrestlers in 2014, many of which he will now coach at the high school level this year. He eventually served as junior high coach and high school assistant for the Wolves. McCune was also selected as Junior High Coach of the Year for all classes in 2020 by the Oklahoma Wrestling Coaches Association.

“All these kids I've helped coach from elementary school,” McCune said.

Back in the fold for Shawnee next season will be last year's state placer Sam Anderson and fellow seniors Spencer Rochelle and Johnny Taber, along with Christien Taylor and Logan Cash.

As for McCune's coaching approach, it's all about tradition and being relentless.

“One aspect is sticking to tradition,” said McCune. “I'm a chain wrestler who likes to attack and it's going to be non-stop attacking.”

McCune believes his near decade stint in the Marines can be instrumental in helping the Wolves achieve success.

“I think my leadership experience in the Marine Corps has helped me and to pass that on is win-win,” McCune said. “I also got to help by participating in the Marines' Takedown Program. Because of that, I figured out what I wanted to do when I got back here (get into coaching and teaching).”

McCune thinks tying the past with the present and future can be a factor in the program growing and reaching new heights. Team building and having current varsity wrestlers meet with alumni grapplers can lead to future success.

“We've been doing a lot of team bonding and I want our guys to meet (wrestling) alumni. I want them to know how the program has impacted their life as well,” said McCune, who served as a geography teacher at the Shawnee Middle School and will now teach Computer Editing 1 and 2 at the high school.

McCune has also stressed the importance of family within the program. Recently, 25 wrestlers out of a group of 45 (with the rest primarily parents) made the trip to Mulvane, Kansas for a Freestyle and Greco Roman Tournament. Many of the wrestlers are headed to nationals in Fargo, N.D., later in July.

“Our first goal is to get a district title and then go from there,” McCune said. “We want to be straight grinders looking forward. We are going to let our wrestling do the talking”

McCune's wife is Mary, who teaches at Jefferson Elementary School where she was selected as the school's teacher of the year. They have a 14-year-old son Trenton, who will be a freshman at SHS, and a daughter Brianna, who is 8.

Andrew, who himself was twice nominated as Shawnee Middle School Teacher of the Year and once achieving the award, received a bachelor's degree in history from East Central University in 2017 and is currently working on his master's degree in sports administration from ECU.