Posted 3/07/12 (Wed)
By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer
Have you ever met someone and automatically thought, “This is a truly amazing person?” You may not even know anything about their life, what they do, where they are from or what they have experienced, but positive energy just emanates from him or her. It is easy to see that Joe Allen is that kind of person. He exudes excitement and a joy for life not often seen.
Born in Seoul, Korea, Allen spent his early years on military bases. His father was stationed in Seoul with the Army when he met Allen’s mother, a Korean citizen. The family ultimately moved to Colorado Spring, Colo. when Joe was a toddler.
Unfortunately, within the first year of being in Colorado Springs, Allen’s parents divorced. His father moved him to Louisiana for the next 13 years. Due to financial and environmental struggles, his grandmother moved him from Louisiana back to Colorado Springs to live with his mother, who worked in a factory.
While Allen was always interested in sports, it was in Colorado that Allen’s sport prowess was really brought to life while at Liberty High School.
At Liberty, Allen played football and basketball and ran track. In his four years there he was named All-State as a wide receiver and free safety and his football and basketball teams were seen in the class 5A playoffs several times.
In his senior year of high school, Allen had offers to play football and basketball in Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, and South Dakota.
“I had to use athletics to go to college,” says Allen. “I may not have seen it that way at the time, but basketball allowed me to better myself through education.”
Despite all the offers, Allen decided to play basketball at Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. Allen would spend two years playing for Dakota State, until a coaching change allowed him the opportunity to explore other schools. He decided to leave Madison and transferred to Huron University in Huron, S.D.
Throughout his collegiate years, Allen played as a small forward, point guard and shooting guard. As a Screaming Eagle of Huron University, he and his team won a conference title and made two appearances in Division II playoffs.
“It was fun, but hard too,” explains Allen about being a college athlete. “It really was a job and tested your love and dedication.”
Basketball was not the only thing Allen found in college, however. While at Huron, he met Shana Schaible, a native of Watford City. They started dating at Huron, where Shana was also a student-athlete on the volleyball team, and have been together ever since.
“I noticed his smile and his personality first,” describes Shana. “He is positive and upbeat and always a gentleman.”
Allen graduated in 2002 with bachelor’s degrees in marketing and sports management and a minor in coaching. Once out of college, Allen played one season in the Xtreme Basketball Association. He also began looking for opportunities to play overseas. In 2003, after looking in Korea and all over Europe, Allen signed a contract with Pécs, Hungary.
“I felt sheer excitement and joy that Joe was going to Europe, though I missed him a lot,” says Shana. “But it was exciting for him to be able to do something that has always been his dream.”
Joe and Shana, along with their daughter, Raelae, moved to San Antonio, Texas just prior to when Joe went to Hungary to play basketball. While Joe was overseas, Shana began working at USAA in projects and as a manager in the Consumer Loan Department.
However, after just one season in Europe, Allen was offered the position of head boys’ basketball coach at Antonian College Preparatory (ACP) and accepted to be with his family.
“Family really is the most important thing to me,” says Allen. “It was a no-brainer to move back and coach.”
Over the next seven years Allen coached football, basketball and track at ACP, Corner Stone Preparatory Academy, and Stevens High School, all in the San Antonio area.
Allen and his football and basketball teams won numerous conference titles, made several state appearances, and while at Stevens, even played in the semifinals of 5A football, no small feat in Texas. Allen also won the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) boys National Championship in basketball with Corner Stone for the ’06-’07 season.
But on April 1, 2007, Allen was reminded in the cruelest possible way how important family is when he learned of his father’s murder in Natchez, La. After the crippling news, he took a year off from coaching in order to spend time with family, both grieving and healing. It was during this time that he also started work on his Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management.
“It’s hard when anyone you love loses a loved one,” says Shana. “You just support them, just like anyone else would do in a relationship.”
Allen returned to coaching at Stevens in the fall of 2008. Throughout his coaching career, Allen has really pushed his student-athletes to be just that, students and then athletes. Any team that Allen has coached was able to boast a 100 percent graduation rate.
Even though the Allens loved their time in Texas, in 2011 they decided to move back to Shana’s home state of North Dakota. The family celebrates three young girls, Raelae, 10, Tarryn, 5, and Mya, 4. Allen currently holds the title of “Mr. Mom” and stays home with Mya while Shana works for McKenzie County Bank.
But luckily for Watford City’s young athletes, Allen is still giving of his coaching skills. Last fall Allen helped national football legend Fred Fridley coach the Watford Wolves football team. He has been able to spend time coaching on the basketball court as well.
Laura Sanford began the Little Wolves program three years ago to get younger children started on their basketball skills. She met Allen last December and knew automatically that he would be a great coach for the program.
“Joe is just so fun and full of energy,” says Sanford. “The kids really listen to him.”
Little Wolves runs for eight weeks for children in kindergarten through fourth grade. The camp focuses on skills for the first three weeks and then runs games for the final five weeks.
“He is awesome,” continues Sanford. “He has a gift from God that he shares so generously with others. It’s great to see him with the kids. They just love him.”
Allen loves basketball, football, and the entire realm of athletics, but not just for what the individual sports are. He finds excitement and pride in what those activities can teach athletes about life.
“Throughout a season you go through so many life lessons and trials and tribulations,” explains Allen. “You do a lot of self-learning, like how to be self-critical and make sacrifices for the team.”
It is these kinds of things, more than just techniques and strategy, which make Allen passionate about sports, a passion that translates into all aspects of his life.
Meeting, working and learning from someone like Joe Allen is sure to infuse you with drive, tenacity and a glowing optimism. Watford City’s youth are extremely lucky to have him teaching them about sports and life. They will gain greatly in basketball and football I.Q., and through Allen’s example, see the kind of steady confidence and joy that can radiate from having committed to a team and to yourself.