SC teacher, coach Shaffer dies in ATV crash Sunday
The town of Elizabeth, volleyball community and South Central Junior-Senior High School are mourning the loss of coach and teacher Patty Shaffer.
The 44-year-old, who coached the South Central varsity volleyball team and was a math teacher at the school, died Sunday night, Oct. 9, 2016, in an ATV crash on Hulse Lane in the Elizabeth area.
‘It’s devastating because she’s a great person, coach and co-worker,’ South Central athletic director Bradly Mills said. ‘It’s surreal.’
According to Indiana conservation officers, responders were called at about 8:25 p.m. and found Shaffer pinned under a 2016 Kawasaki Mule ATV. Shaffer, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was not wearing a helmet and safety restraints were not in use at the time of the crash. She had been riding on a slight incline in a turn. The exact cause of death is still under investigation.
As a coach, Shaffer had guided the Lady Rebels’ program since the 2005 campaign. The current season marked the 10-year anniversary of the volleyball program’s most recent Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 1A Sectional championship. Under Shaffer’s guidance, the Lady Rebels swept rival Lanesville in the championship round in 2006 to claim the program’s third sectional.
Currently, the South Central volleyball program is set to host the upcoming 1A sectional tournament beginning next week. The final regular season game, scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday), has been canceled.
‘It’s been hard,’ Mills said. ‘It’s hitting everybody in such different ways. I called each of the (volleyball players) individually to see how they were doing. I was on the phone from 11 to 3 (Monday) talking to the girls and their parents. We have kids going through all kinds of different emotions right now. There is a lot of grief.’
Students and faculty at the school are out on fall break, but Mills said administrators are available if needed for counseling.
‘We are trying to stay as an athletic department and school, and allowing the family their space,’ Mills said. ‘Even though she meant so much to us, she meant so much more than we could ever imagine to her family.’
Shaffer impacted many lives as a coach and math teacher, including 2016 South Central graduate Suzanna Bond.
‘Patty held so many titles: mother, coach, teacher and, most of all, mentor,’ Bond said. ‘She was a wonderful leader for all the students and athletes she taught with the genuine down-to-earth kindness she presented to all she met. She taught me much more than how to serve or pass the ball or how to calculate two-step equations.’
Last volleyball season, Bond suffered a seizure and had to miss games. Her health was at the top of Shaffer’s mind.
‘Throughout the time that I was honored to have Patty in my life, especially after my seizure last year, she was so caring and thoughtful to all my needs,’ Bond said. ‘Without Patty, I don’t know that I would’ve graduated high school. Although I only got to know her for five short years, she impacted me in so many ways. She will be dearly missed by the countless hearts and lives she touched during her time here on earth.’
Shaffer was the second-longest tenured athletic coach at South Central.
Her funeral will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow at Beanblossom-Cesar Funeral Home in Corydon.