Brandon Shaver is enthusiastic about his new post.
Shaver will lead the East Peoria boys cross country team as the head coach, beginning with the fall season.
"I'm excited. I think it will be a great opportunity," said Shaver. "They are great kids to work with."
Shaver said he has high expectations for the Raiders' cross country program.
He wants the team members to be student-athletes with a priority placed on academics and desires hard-working young men who are goal-oriented.
"There is so much potential there, especially with the attitudes they bring," said Shaver of the current roster of 11.
Shaver hopes every athlete can experience continuous improvement and deliver personal records.
Another objective is to increase the numbers, which will enhance the team's ability and create a fun environment, Shaver said.
In the future, Shaver would like East Peoria to be a name that quickly comes to mind when talking about the area cross country scene.
Taking the helm at the high school seemed like a natural progression for Shaver.
"The opportunity to work with these kids is something I couldn't pass up," Shaver said.
Shaver is entering his third year as a seventh grade world history/reading teacher at East Peoria Central Junior High.
He coached cross country last year for the Wildcats, along with Josh Prichard, after lending a hand to former leader Nick D'Alfonso in 2011-12.
Shaver also plans to extend his track coaching career at EPCJHS to three years.
The high-school level was where Shaver started to flourish as a runner, making it an appealing age group for him to coach.
Shaver was one of the slower runners at Normal University High School before working his way into a varsity captain's role under Pioneers head coach Lester Hampton.
Shaver moved on to Augustana College, from where he graduated in '11.
Longtime Vikings head coach Paul Olsen guided Shaver in Rock Island.
Hampton and Olsen created a love of running that was evident in the lofty number of team members annually.
"Running for people like that, I always wanted to coach," said Shaver.
The Raiders are aware that the offseason is crucial for fall sports. In cross country, June and July are months to build an individual's base mileage.
They are driven to attain their goals in the fall months.
"Coming into that is a coach's dream," Shaver said. "I'm excited to work with them because I think there is lot of potential here."
East Peoria seeks to continue improving its Mid-Illini Conference standing, be competitive at the regional and sectional meets and maximize their presence at state.
While the future outlook seems bright, the '13 season provides an important starting spot. There are many benchmarks for which the boys plan to strive.
Page 2 of 2 - "I'm excited to see where we can be at the end of the season," said Shaver, who replaces two-year boys head coach Scott Peterson.
The Raiders were fourth in the league last season. Matt Church was first-team all-conference as a sophomore, along with senior Jacob Vangunten.
East Peoria earned a spot in the Class 2A Notre Dame Sectional.