As a ninth-grade health and physical education teacher at Briar Woods, Kip Shallis has developed relationships with the Falcons’ basketball players inside the school halls.

But when each school day would end over the past 12 years as a Loudoun County Public Schools teacher, Shallis was forced to head elsewhere, either as an assistant or head coach at other programs across the area.

On Tuesday, those days of commuting officially came to an end. Briar Woods announced that Shallis will be the school’s new boys’ basketball coach.

“I think the sky’s the limit with these guys,” Shallis said. “I’ve seen them play, been around them and know their talent level.”

Shallis is replacing Mike Benson, who stepped down as the Briar Woods coach in March. After going 1-20 in his first year at Champe two years ago, Shallis guided the Knights to an 11-12 record this past season and their first-ever postseason victory, a 58-55 win over Central-Woodstock in the VHSL Conference 28 tournament.

“We’re very excited to have Kip,” Briar Woods Athletic Director Jerry Carter said. “He’s got a great background and he’s a hard worker. He’s a great fit for Briar Woods High School.”

Prior to taking the Champe job in 2012, Shallis, 39, was an assistant coach with Potomac Falls for 10 years on Coach Jeff Hawes’s staff, aiding the back-to-back state championship teams in 2010 and 2011.

“We’re best of friends, that’ll never change,” Hawes said. “We talk daily. I got a little coaching tree going, so to speak. He’s the sixth guy that’s worked for me that’s become a head coach.”

That said, Hawes added it will be “bittersweet” to compete against his good friend during the Conference 14 season.

Shallis is also close with Broad Run Coach John Costello and anticipates plenty of tough conference games ahead.

“The level of respect we have mutually for each other, the competitive nature will come out,” Shallis said.

One of Shallis’s focal points with his team, he said, will be that they can play multiple sports without any pressure of choosing one. He’s already begun planning offseason workouts so that they won’t interfere with any other team’s activities.

With Shallis already having a presence inside Briar Woods, he said there shouldn’t be a problem adjusting to his new group of players.

“I know these kids well,” he said. “I’ve used that to my advantage. If you understand how a kid functions or what makes him go when it comes to coaching, it makes it easy.”