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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

KEN SHIELDS

Inducted in 2009

Member Details

Date of Birth: December 7, 1945
Place of Birth: Beaverlodge, Alberta
Sport: Basketball
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1978-1989

Coach, University of Victoria

1980-1986

CIS National Basketball Championships

1990-1994

Coach, Canadian national basketball team

1998

Appointed to the Order of Canada (invested 1999)

2009

Inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Honoured Member KEN SHIELDS
Inspire

Story

Former national basketball team coach, Ken Shields doesn't need the 45-year-old photo album to recall the turning point in his life. It's nestled moment-by-moment in his mind and in his heart. 1964. University of BC gymnasium. The upstart Prince Rupert Rainmakers, playing before a hang-from-the-rafters, jam-to-the-sidelines crowd of 6,000 - twenty times bigger than their entire student body - arriving as unknowns and leaving as the provincial high school basketball champions. "Nothing that came after compared to that," he says. "It made an incredible impression on me that a bunch of guys who just happened to be there at the same time could do that." "We trained like maniacs, played in a men's league in Prince Rupert and won only two games, but it taught us. We were feisty. We fought each other. But on the court we were together and we weren't afraid of anybody." It says something of Ken Shields that he remains stunned to be a Hall of Fame inductee. But the drive to succeed has always been there, built around a formula instilled by his parents: when you do something, do it right or keep doing it until you do. As a child on the prairies he lived on his skates and dreamed of being a Toronto Maple Leaf. A family move to the Queen Charlotte Islands when he was six crushed that. Basketball began as an alternative. His first team was on the Indian reserve, his first coaches, Haidas. When the Shields family moved to Prince Rupert for his grade 11 year he managed the school's B team because he wasn't good enough to make the A squad, and played in a community league. He tried out again as a senior, made it, and the Rainmakers went on to that storied championship. Life takes us on strange paths. Through college it occurred to Shields that he wanted to coach, but there was no college course for such a thing. So he took Phys. Ed at the University of British Columbia, extrapolated what he learned and took it into a highly successful coaching career both at the University of Victoria and as coach of Canada's national team. The lack of a proper coaching program bothered him for years until he was able to get one established at UVic. For the next Ken Shields with the yearning to coach, to pass on the knowledge, the tools and opportunity are there now. Hall of Fame stuff, for certain. (Former sports columnist Jim Taylor is the author of twelve books on outstanding Canadian Athletes, the latest a memoir, Hello Sweetheart? Gimmie Rewrite!)


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