|Kenney Shields and his book.|
“Life is lived forwards but can only be understood backwards,” wrote Soren Kierkegaard and that becomes clear after talking with the legendary Kenney Shields about his recently self published book, Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else, a reference to what he often told his teams before games. If you have ever met Shields, then you know that he is a great storyteller who sees the optimistic side of almost any situation. Not only is he admired and respected for his coaching but he is equally admired for the positive effect he has had on Northern Kentucky.
Kenney and I sat on his shady front porch reviewing his career, people, and events. The book follows Kenney from his Irish Catholic upbringing in Covington through his first teaching job at Covington Catholic (for $4,000 a year to teach and $300 to coach), to his successes at Saint Thomas High School, Highlands High School, and Northern Kentucky University.
I asked him how long it took to write the book. He smiled and said, “Well, twelve years ago Dave Schabell, who retired from Proctor and Gamble and does a lot for Bishop Brossard’s programs, asked if we could write a book.” Shields was hesitant at first but after two years he agreed.
And there’s a lot to talk about. Schabell writes in the Introduction that Shields is “Northern Kentucky’s favorite son who has been enjoying a rightfully earned retirement since 2004. But a fire still burns within him fueled by a passion for the sport he was devoted to for most of his life.” And that is apparent when you speak with him because he smiles and his eyes twinkle with delight at fond memories.
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Kenney Shields won - a lot. After 34 years he amassed an overall 766 - 427 record that includes high school and collegiate coaching. He won a number of regional championships, NCAA Division II National Championships, was the National Coach of the Year, has a Covington city park named for him, has been inducted into a number of Hall of Fames, and is a popular speaker. To the casual observer, it may appear that Shields’ career was a rapid rise to the top, but he tells stories of the low points. It would be easy to gloss over those but he reveals it all and how that inspired him.
|Marie and Kenney Shields.|
Shields doesn’t talk about himself but he instead brags about the success of his players. His success is how successful his players and students become knowing that he played a role in that. Is that gratifying. “It really is,” he says. He smiles.
Here’s something to understand about Kenney Shields. He shares the credit for all of his successes. He credits Marie for a successful family, he credits assistant coaches, administrators, and players for successful seasons. He knows that he needs a team and the help of others to succeed. He credits a team of people for the successful publishing of the book. He has that uncanny ability to put together a team that soars above and beyond their individual talents. That’s why he is a legend. Shields’ team for this book includes David Schabell, Dick Murgatroyd, Terry Boehmker, Rick Meyer, and Jim Lied, a pretty storied group of individuals.
One thing struck me about Kenney Shields. He gives to the community. He has given so much already though teaching and coaching, but he gives financial support to the schools that influenced him. For example, he donates all of the money from his sports camps. It’s that important. He says, “My mother said that we should give to the special places in our lives. And I am a believer in it.” He believes that the success or failure of a community is the responsibility of the people who live in the community. If everyone has a responsibility to make the community a better place then Kenny Shields has had a profound impact not only on Fort Thomas but Northern Kentucky.
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“We got towards the end of the book, but we didn’t know how to go about publishing it.” And that’s where other team member steps in. “Terry Boehmker, (sports writer for the Northern Kentucky Tribune), asked about it and he pared the book down. He is the ultimate closer.” He understood publishing and made things happen. “I’m having fun and having more fun as we go. It’s exciting.”
A Fort Thomas company, Micropress Publishing, a subsidiary of Living Magazines, printed and published the book.
I asked him what he wanted the reader to get out of the book. “Well, I want people to enjoy the story.” He paused and said, “Get involved. Get involved for somebody else not for yourself.”
The book is a wonderful read about a local legend and you just might adopt a new motto of Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else.
Kenny Shields and Dave Schabell will hold book sales and signings at:
* Tuesday, August 1 at Barleycorn’s in Lakeside Park, 7:00 -10:00 p.m.
* Thursday, August 3 at Barleycorn’s in Cold Spring, 7:00-10:00 p.m.
A quarter of the proceeds of the $15 sales goes to the Kenney Shields Scholarship Fund for NKU’s men's basketball players.
You can buy the book online directly here.