A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Book about successful career of coach Kenney Shields should interest local basketball fans

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports writer

During his annual summer basketball camp at Ft. Thomas Armory this week, legendary coach Kenney Shields gathered the young players around him during breaks between drills and shared stories about what the game of basketball has taught him.

After recounting bits and pieces of his life and successful coaching career at summer camp pep talks for more than 30 years, Shields and one of his long-time friends, Dave Schabell, have put it all into print. Their book entitled, “Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else,” can be ordered online by going to this website.

It took several years for Schabell to research and write the book about the affable coach who compiled a 766-427 record on the high school and college levels during his 39-year career. The list of his Hall of Fame inductions on the book’s back cover is a testament to Shields’ remarkable accomplishments.

The book’s title is from a speech the coach often gave before a big game. He told his players to go out and do their best, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

“I’m extremely happy that this book has finally become a reality,” said Shields, 76, who retired from coaching in 2004. “I truthfully feel there are a lot for people who could be interested in my lifetime and career. There’s an awful lot of former players and their families and just people in general who followed sports in Northern Kentucky who would be interested in it.”

Dave Schabell

Schabell, 70, is a former high school basketball coach who has known Shields for years. His writing background was somewhat limited when he started the book project 13 years ago, but he felt it was a something that needed to be done.

In the book’s introduction, Schabell writes: “Coach Shields is a local hero, personality, and the sports community’s good humor man. He grew up in the west end of Covington, Kentucky, and has devoted his life to making the Northern Kentucky community a better place by interacting with its youth through teaching and coaching basketball.”

The book is a biography about Shields’ life before, during and after his basketball coaching career. The reader learns about him growing up in an Irish Catholic family and the boyhood teammates who became life-long friends. The ups and downs of his coaching career that he shared with his wife, Marie, and their children are a major part of the storyline.

To complete the final chapters of the book, Schabell and Shields went to a lakeside vacation home in Tennessee where they didn’t have any distractions and spent the weekend working on it together.

“I didn’t realize how deeply involved it is covering a man’s total career from the cradle to his retirement from coaching in college,” Schabel said.

One year after he graduated from college, Shields started his head coaching career at St. Thomas, a small parish high school. He spent 10 years there before becoming the boys’ head basketball coach at Highlands, where he won 261 games and five regional championships in 13 seasons.

His record of success on the high school level got him the job as head men’s basketball coach at Northern Kentucky University. After a few rough years, he took NKU teams to the NCAA Division II national championship game in 1996 and 1997. The Norse continued to be one of the top Division II teams in the country until Shields retired in 2004 with a 306-170 record in 16 seasons.

“He had a certain magnetism that everybody wanted him to succeed,” Schabell said of the coach’s career. “The players I talked to all said they’d go through a wall for him. The letters they wrote back (to him) that I would read said, ‘Coach, you’re the greatest thing that’s every happened to me.’ The bus driver he started with at NKU drove on every road trip to be a part of it.”

Shields has never stopped working with young people who enjoy basketball. This is the 32nd consecutive year that he has conducted the summer camp at the Fort Thomas Armory and he has another one scheduled at Sports of All Sorts in Union next week.

When he gets through with the second summer camp, he’ll have more time to promote and sell his self-published book that was printed by MicroPress in Bellevue.

“I’ve had people that said to me, ‘Will that book be done before I die?,” Shields said with a chuckle. “It’s been a long process, but it’s become a reality.”

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  1. Robin Kelsch says:

    Where can I buy one of these. Love Coach Shields. Great coach and even better person. Loved his University 101 class at NKU.

  2. Pat Landrum says:

    Good luck to two fine men dedicated to guiding and teaching young people.

  3. Mark Franzen says:

    This is outstanding. I have been waiting for this to come out. I can’t wait to read and learn more about coach Sheilds and the positive impact he had on people’s lives.

  4. Ron langenbrunner says:

    Congrats Kenny….Ive not followed u thru the years… but respect from others is duly noted.

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