Shaw leads Lady Longhorns from the point

By Matt Hill

   MOUNTAIN CITY- For some athletes, playing sports just happens to be in their blood. That statement definitely rings true for Johnson County girls basketball player Courtney Shaw.
   Shaw belongs to a famous athletic family in Mountain City that not only encourages her, but also pushes her to be the best.
   Shaw is Mike and Austin Atwood's niece, both of whom are coaches at Johnson County High School. Mike is the head football and track coach, while Austin is the head boys basketball coach.
   Shaw, who is now a senior, played for Austin during her first two years at JCHS. Shaw cherishes the relationships with her well-known uncles.
   "They've both had a big influence in my life," Shaw said. "They've been like dads to me. Austin was my coach, and he always encouraged me. He's the reason I played. He always helped me and taught me everything."
   Austin was the girls head coach for two years at Johnson County, which just happened to be when Courtney was starting varsity basketball. They're two years he will never forget.
   "That was one of my highlights of coaching," Austin Atwood said. "I know it was hard on her. I enjoyed it, I don't know if she did or not. I'm just glad to see Courtney doing what she likes to do."
   Shaw says she did enjoy playing for her uncle. It was a successful time for Johnson County girls basketball, and Shaw will always treasure those two years.
   "That's the best coaching I've ever had," Shaw said. "I really liked it when he coached us. That's the best we ever did, too."
   Shaw will admit that Austin was tough on her, but knew it was out of love. Shaw compared it to Austin playing for former Johnson County head boys basketball coach John Dyer.
   Shaw said Dyer was extremely hard on Austin, but Austin regularly talks about how he respects Dyer so much.
   "It was tough," Shaw said. "He thinks the team is the point guard's responsibility. He was always hard on me, because that's how it was with him."
   Austin being tough on her didn't change how Shaw felt about him. The two had and still have a special bond that can't be broken.
   Shaw felt like she reaped the benefits of being so close to her uncle.
   "We have a really close relationship," she said. "That worked to my advantage. On snow days he would take me to the gym and work on stuff, one-on-one."
   Shaw is known as a great defender, which is very ironic considering that Austin preaches defense no matter what level he is coaching at.
   "He was really big on defense," Shaw said. "He made me the defensive player I am today."
   After her sophomore season, Shaw found out that her uncle wouldn't be coaching the girls team anymore. The boys head coaching position was open, and he was offered the job.
   Of course, Atwood decided to take it. It was something that was very difficult for Shaw, but she understood.
   "It was hard, because he had been there for two years, and we were gaining respect," she said. "We had gone from having a losing season to having a winning season. He debated it, but I would have done it to. I didn't want him to go."
   What didn't change for Shaw was that her former coach was still there for her and the girls team. Shaw still loves Austin, and Austin still helps her out.
   "I talk to him before every game," she said. "I think so much of him. He's still there for us, especially me."
   Shaw treasures her whole family. The Atwood's have several nieces and nephews playing at either the high school or the middle school.
   Shaw's mother, Valerie, is also involved in athletics. She keeps the scorebook for the boys and girls teams, and is Mike and Austin's older sister.
   Courtney's brother, Ricky Shaw, is also a former athlete at Johnson County. The 2002 graduate played on three-straight playoff football teams.
   Shaw knows there is a lot to live up to playing under that Atwood name, but she wouldn't want it any other way.
   "I think there is a lot of pressure," Shaw said. "They're always telling you what you did wrong. But I'm fortunate to have people in my family that are good at sports, and have the knowledge to teach you how to play them."