Section II had its share of outstanding high school female athletes back in the 1980s, but none of them had the speed and basketball skills of Shawn Shafer.
The former Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons standout, now Shawn Siver, earned All-American honors and an athletic scholarship to Siena College after leading the Golden Knights to the 1986 Class A Public High School Girls Basketball Championship.
Anyone who saw her play during Gibbons' title run that year shouldn't be surprised that Siver, now 50, looks every bit as fit as she did in high school.
"I'm an avid runner, and I have been one pretty much throughout my whole life," said Siver, who after living in Schenectady and Glenville, recently moved outside of Schenectady County to Valatie where she works for the East Greenbush School District. "Even when I was pregnant with my kids I would still go to the gym and work out."
When she's not running or hitting the gym and weightlifting, you'll probably find Siver on the ski slopes during the winter months or out on her bike if the weather is warmer.
"I just turned 50 but I feel like I'm still going on 22," said Shafer, who wore that number on her jersey during four years of varsity basketball at Bishop Gibbons and three more years at Siena, where she averaged 19 points a game. "I know I'm going to start to go downhill soon, but I'm not gonna just sit around and let it happen. I'm hoping to delay the inevitable for as long as I can."
Siver has two grown sons, 26 and 23, who graduated from Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School. She also has two step-daughters from her second marriage who are both students at Ichabod Crane High, where Siver served as the assistant varsity girls' basketball coach during the 2017-2018 season and hopes to do it again next year.
"I enjoy working with the kids at Green Meadow Elementary School, and I also thought I'd try something different so I was the assistant coach for the Ichabod Crane girls team," said Siver, whose coach at Gibbons was Tom Lochner. "When we moved down here I thought it would be nice to help them out and it's been fun. Basketball was so important to my life and I do miss those days. I'll never forget them. My father has tapes of me playing at Gibbons that he still looks at."
Watching Shafer play basketball at Notre-Dame Bishop Gibbons was certainly a memorable experience. Former Draper and Columbia High girls' coach Fran Pugliese and Ken Strube, his counterpart at Shenendehowa, saw Shafer play on a number of occasions. She was something special.
"Shawn was the area's first female jump shooter," said Pugliese, who coached Draper High to a Class C sectional title in 1982 and Columbia to a Class A crown in 1994. "Up to that point girls were mainly set shooters. She played the game like a boy. She could handle the ball with both hands, and she could shoot the ball with either hand. She was a big step in the evolution of the girls game in our area."
"She was the best player in Section II, on the best team in Section II," remembered Strube, who won an unprecedented 10 sectional titles as head coach of the Lady Plainsmen between 1980 and 2012. "Shawn was fluid and explosive at the same time. It was a pleasure to watch her play, provided she wasn't playing against us."
While Siver took a few steps away from playing basketball to raise her own family, it was about 10 years ago that she got back into it, competing in a 40 and over league at the Parkside YMCA; a 40 and over men's league.
"I was the only woman in the league, and I think I ended up being the third-leading scorer," said Siver. "The other players had to all vote on letting me play so that was nice. I did that for about five years, and it was a lot of fun."
Siver says her husband, Scott Siver, who was an assistant coach of Pugliese's at Columbia, helps her stay fit. The two were part of a triathlon team last summer (canoeing, biking and running), but Shawn hopes she'll be able to do a triathlon on her own in the near future. That will, however, present another challenge for her, since she's got her sights set on a swimming, biking and riding event.
"Yeah, I'm learning how to swim," she said. "I never learned, but I think by this summer I should be ready to go solo. That's the plan right now."