Rio Grande’s Gunnell honored by WBCA

By Randy Payton - For Ohio Valley Publishing

RIO GRANDE, Ohio — University of Rio Grande women’s basketball assistant coach Shaun Gunnell is among those honored by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association with the organization’s Thirty Under 30 award presented by Marriott Rewards for the 2016-17 season.

The award, now in its second year, was created to recognize 30 up-and-coming women’s basketball coaches age 30 and under at all levels of the game. Each honoree has exemplified their involvement in community service, mentorship and impact on others, professional manner, and attitude and professional association involvement.

“The WBCA is pleased to recognize up and coming talent in our coaching family. The 30 coaches who have been named to receive the Thirty Under 30 Award are deserving of this recognition, and the WBCA congratulates them for distinguishing themselves early in their careers,” said WBCA Executive Director Danielle Donehew. “These coaches have demonstrated eagerness, effectiveness, loyalty, love of the game, and a commitment to the student-athlete. We celebrate their effort on the basketball court as teachers and equally applaud the extensive role they play in impacting the lives of their student-athletes.”

Gunnell just completed his fourth season as a member of the Rio Grande staff, where he is actively involved in all aspects of coaching. He has a full-time position in Admissions at Rio.

Gunnell and the remaining honorees are being recognized this weekend as part of Final Four activities in Dallas.

“I’m truly honored to receive such an award and I couldn’t have done it without the support of (Rio head) coach (David) Smalley, (Rio assistant coaches) Tyler Davis and Jackie Thompson,” Gunnell said. “I’ve grown as a man in these past four years while working for coach Smalley, not just with basketball, but in life as well. He will always be a mentor to me.”

The 28-year-old native of Columbus, Ohio is a graduate of Rio Grande, where he was a member of the men’s basketball team for three seasons and a two-year member of Rio’s men’s track & field team.

Gunnell was a second team All-Mid-South Conference pick in basketball as a senior and a multiple-medal winner for the RedStorm track program.

His previous coaching experience included four years as an instructor in the Rio Grande men’s basketball “Hard Work Camp”.

“I’m very happy for the recognition that coach Gunnell is receiving,” said Smalley, who himself was among those recognized by the WBCA’s 2017 Victory Club after earning his 500th career win in a 93-82 victory over Asbury University on Jan. 24. “The award is designed to honor up-and-coming coaches who exemplify upward mobility in coaching attitude and professionalism. Perhaps, it can be a springboard for him toward landing a full-time position as a head coach or an assistant coach in the women’s college ranks.”

“I’m excited for Shaun as he continues to build his resume for future coaching employment possibilities elsewhere,” Smalley added, “but I’m saddened by the reality that my basketball program and the University of Rio Grande is unable to hire him full-time in his desired field – coaching RedStorm women’s basketball.”

For a complete list of honorees, visit

Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande.

By Randy Payton

For Ohio Valley Publishing