Justin Shiltz was not anticipating this career move.
When the Central DeWitt girls basketball job came open last month, a couple of his coaching friends contacted Shiltz and told him “you’d be crazy if you didn’t look into it.”
“I didn’t expect this job to be open,” Shiltz admitted. “The whole process caught me by surprise.”
After applying and then interviewing for the position last week, Shiltz was offered and accepted the job this past weekend for the 2021-22 season. Shiltz replaces Chad Specht, who resigned from the post in early May.
“(Specht) did a great job there,” Shiltz said. “The school’s basketball program is on good footing and in good shape. There is a lot of talent and community support in the lower levels. Girls basketball is in good hands.
“We can really do good things there. Now, it is putting my own imprint and style on the program.”
Since his time building the United Township girls basketball program for the first half of the last decade, it has been a whirlwind for Shiltz’s coaching career.
He spent time as an assistant boys coach at UTHS and Davenport North; coached for several months in the Portland, Ore., suburbs; spent a season as the boys coach at Forreston (Ill.); and worked this past season as an assistant under Brian Hutton at Sherrard.
Shiltz, a Davenport West alum and former all-state player, is a social studies teacher at Sherrard and plans to remain in that position this school year.
“I didn’t leave any of those other situations on bad terms,” Shiltz said. "It was just a couple different circumstances. I was pink-slipped in Davenport (with the budget cuts), and the travel back and forth between here and Forreston was tough on my family.
"This, though, is a tremendous fit for me professionally.”
Central DeWitt is coming off a 16-3 season, one in which it qualified for the Iowa Class 4A state tournament for the first time in a decade.
The Sabers have two Division I recruits returning next season in seniors Taylor Veach (Illinois State) and Allison Meadows (Western Illinois). Natalie Butler is the other returning starter for the Sabers.
Shiltz was expected to meet with Central DeWitt’s administration Tuesday and begin summer workouts with his team later this week.
“DeWitt is quite different from what it was during my playing days at Davenport West in the 1990s,” Shiltz said. “It has changed for the good. The school district seems be growing and I’m excited to be part of it.”