By Joe Hofbauer
Just because you grow up around something doesn’t mean you will be good at it. But for Kent Shelley, head baseball coach, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.
With his recent induction into the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), it’s easy to see Shelley knows exactly what he’s doing.
During his time at Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kan., Shelley, then co-captain of the baseball team, was voted MVP. After his run at Pratt, it was only a matter of time until other colleges wanted to get in on the action.
Shelley received offers to play for KU, Oklahoma State University, Emporia State University and many other Division II colleges, as well as the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“It had always been a dream of mine to return home and play for the Jayhawks and graduate from the University of Kansas,” Shelley said. “Luckily I was able to fulfill that dream.”
Shelley played for KU for two years and was selected co-captain his senior year. Soon he was hired as graduate assistant coach. After a year of coaching he decided it was time to get a job in the “real world.”
“I let money be a main motivator, and I let the state of Colorado be the second,” he said. “After a short stint in sales I decided to return to my true love, and that’s the profession of coaching baseball.”
After returning to Kansas, Shelley was contacted by Johnson County Community College, Kansas City Kansas Community College and Fort Scott Community College and offered assistant coaching positions at all three.
“Luckily I chose the correct one,” Shelley said.
He became the first paid assistant coach in the college’s history. Shelley had the opportunity to coach under the “legendary” Sunny Maynard. The position of head coach opened and Shelley was offered the position.
Terry Calaway, college president, acknowledged Shelley’s award and commitment to the college at the Jan. 17 Board of Trustees meeting.
“[Shelley’s] just been one of the best of the best,” Calaway said.
Calaway then addressed Shelley directly.
“We are so, so honored to have the opportunity to work with you and to have this chance to celebrate this recognition of your great work both inside the classroom and on the field,” he said.
Shelley is in his 26th year here at the college and still going strong. He credits his entire success to his family, players and staff.
Contact Joe Hofbauer, reporting correspondent, at email@example.com.