BRYN ATHYN, Pa. – Bryn Athyn College has named David Sheaffer as the director of tennis and head coach of the men's team and James Howell as the women's team's head coach on Friday. The announcement was made by Bryn Athyn College Director of Athletics Matt Kennedy.
"We are very excited to have Dave and James come on board and lead our tennis program," said Kennedy. "Dave has been very successful everywhere he has been and brings a great knowledge of tennis and program building to Bryn Athyn. His experience will be invaluable for our student-athletes. James had a solid career as a player and is a young, hungry coach. He is great enthusiasm and passion for the sport. As a duo, we feel that Dave and James can do great things."
Sheaffer comes to Bryn Athyn after a very successful nine-year run at fellow North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) institution Penn State Abington.
"I am looking forward to building on the program that Abraham Joseph has established," said Sheaffer. "James and I will emphasize doubles, work to build strong team unity, and make our focus working toward excellence as we did at Penn State Abington.
"While it will be tough being on the other side of the net from my former players this season, I look forward to helping establish a strong program in the NEAC this season and the CSAC in future seasons. I am grateful to Matt (Kennedy) for giving me this opportunity."
At the helm of the men's program, Sheaffer was a three-time NEAC Coach of the Year (2014, 2015, 2016) and led the Nittany Lions to a 70-49 overall record, 27-11 against the NEAC. Abington won the NEAC West Tournament in 2014, 2015, and 2016 and claimed the regular season crown in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Under his tutelage, two Nittany Lions earned the conference's player of the year award (Mohammed Ammouni – 2015, 2016 and Michael Litz – 2017) and four players were selected as the rookie of the year (James Howell – 2012, Mike Herman – 2014, Ammouni – 2015, Litz – 2017). He had at least five players represent the school on the all-conference team six straight years and all three of his doubles teams honored five times.
On the women's side, Sheaffer, the NEAC Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017, guided the Nittany Lions to a 74-53 mark, 41-13 in NEAC play, three NEAC West regular-season titles (2014, 2015, 2016), and seven straight NEAC West Tournament appearances—including the championship season of 2016-17. Sheaffer has coached one NEAC Player of the Year (Honora Hegarty – 2016) and two NEAC Rookies of the Year (Hegarty – 2014, Gabrielle Eberhardt – 2015). In 2016, Abington had all three doubles team named All-NEAC first team and four of its six singles players earned a place on the first team. The Nittany Lions have had all three doubles teams earn conference recognition five times.
Before joining the college ranks, Sheaffer had a four-year stint at Upper Dublin High School. In his four years with the boy's team, the Cardinals posted a 45-9 record and won the Suburban One League Freedom Division in 2004. On the girl's side, Upper Dublin went 30-3 mark in three seasons and won three straight Freedom Division titles in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Sheaffer returned to Upper Dublin in 2017 and led the girl's team to a fourth Freedom Division championship and a runner-up finish in the Suburban One League Tournament.
Sheaffer is also the founder, president, and tennis director of Topspin Tennis Academy, which provides educational tennis opportunities to the local community, and a USTA Gold Cup Program instructor for the Philadelphia Area Tennis District.
A 1996 graduate of Messiah College with a degree in political science, Sheaffer helped the Falcons win the 1995 Middle Atlantic Conference championship. He was the team captain for the 1996 season and was named to the MAC Academic Honor Roll in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
Sheaffer went on to earn a master's degree in nonprofit management from Eastern University.
Howell—a player for Sheaffer at Penn State Abington—is in his first season as the head coach of the girl's tennis team at Abington Senior High School. In addition to his coaching duties, Howell is a site director, lead teaching pro for Topspin Tennis Academy.
"I have seen this program from the outside as an opponent and coach over the years while I was at Penn State Abington," stated Howell. "I look forward to becoming part of this team and strengthening the student-athletes and program as a whole. My experience in college was greatly enhanced by being part of the tennis team and I hope to help do the same for players at Bryn Athyn."
Before taking his first head coaching job, Howell was an assistant coach at Penn State Abington for the 2016 and 2017 seasons. In his two seasons at Abington, the men went 16-13 and won the 2016 NEAC West title and the women posted a 21-10 mark and claimed the 2017 NEAC West championship.
As a four-year letter winner at Abington, Howell was a part of Sheaffer's NEAC West championship winning teams in 2014 and 2015. He had a 33-13 singles record and a 29-14 doubles mark. In 2014, Howell won 13 singles and nine doubles matches and earned a place on the All-NEAC first team for No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles. He posted nine singles and 12 doubles victories and was tabbed All-NEAC first team for No. 1 doubles and the third team for No. 2 singles as a senior. Howell was named the NEAC Rookie of the Year in 2012 after going 10-3 in singles play and 8-3 in double action.
Howell graduated from Penn State Abington in 2015 with a degree in information sciences and technology.