University of Kansas '82
30th season at JCCC
The chapters highlighting Kent Shelley’s storied baseball coaching career continue to grow increasingly larger. And even as the wins, awards and honors keep mounting, each milestone becomes more and more memorable for the Johnson County Community College coach.
In May 2007, Shelley was inducted into the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, joining 77 other community college coaching greats. He is just the second coach from Region VI and the Kansas Jayhawk Conference to earn this prestigious honor. In Jan., 2013, Shelley will earn college baseball highest coaching honor when he is inducted to the American Baseball Coaches Assocation (ABCA) Hall of Fame.
program. The winningest coach in JCCC history, and one of the all-time leaders in the KJCCC, Shelley has amassed an impressive 925-549-1 mark (.627), leading four teams to Eastern Sub-Regional championships and four squads to NJCAA Region VI titles. In 2005, Shelley won his 500th game as JCCC’s head coach, and became JCCC’s all-time wins leader, surpassing JCCC Hall of Famer Sonny Maynard. Win number 599 might just be his most rewarding. That victory gave JCCC its first berth to the NJCAA JUCO World Series. He got win number 600 in his first game of the 2009 campaign, 700 came during the 2011 season, and 800 came during the 2014 campaign, which is Shelley’s best to date, and last year he surpassed the 900-win plateau.
His 2014 squad won a record 50 games, captured both the East Jayhawk Conference and Region VI titles, and qualified for the NJCAA JUCO World Series for the second time in his career and the program’s history.
In 2015, Shelley nearly matched that win total, finishing 49-11 overall and ranked eighth in the final NJCAA poll. The Cavaliers were also one the top power-hitting teams in the nation, finishing third with 106 team home runs. Individually, JCCC had two players in the top 10 in home runs. Anthony Miller was second with a school record 26 home runs, and Ben Calvano was sixth with 19. The season also produced a record 13 all-conference performers, and four All-Region VI selections, the most under Shelley.
In 1987, Kent Shelley accepted the challenge to build on Johnson County’s rich baseball tradition established by legendary coach Sonny Maynard. Shelley has not disappointed the Cavalier faithful, directing the JCCC baseball program to the forefront of junior college baseball in not only the East Jayhawk Conference and Region VI, but nationwide.
In his career at Johnson County, Shelley has earned a reputation for consistently fielding teams that play good fundamental baseball. His teams bat with strict mechanics, play stingy defense, move runners station-to-station and consistently make the smart decision essential to the game of baseball. His teams over his career have been noted for their overall speed.
Testament to that philosophy is apparent in the fact that JCCC has been one of the country’s top-hitting clubs six times in his tenure. 10 times he has produced one of the nation’s leaders in stolen bases. In 2002, Ben Duval led the country with 50, and two years later Vince Rodden was the NJCAA’s leader with 64. Four other top five seasons were posted by Jamie Borel in 1992 (3rd-63 steals), Rodden in 2003 (5th-41), Jeremy Francis in 2008 (5th-43), Blake Sturgeon in 2011 (2nd-66) and Chad Shannon in 2011 (3rd-65).
Successful seasons have never been unusual for Kent Shelley. In his 29 seasons as a college head coach, he has produced seven team that have surpassed 40 wins, 18 teams that have surpassed at least 30 wins and his teams have racked up at least 20 wins in 28 of his 29 years at the helm. Shelley has guided teams to three Eastern Sub-Region titles and four region titles. In 2008 he led his team to the program’s first JUCO World Series appearance. In 2010, his squad captured the KJCCC Eastern Division Conference championships, the first since 1984, and his Cavaliers earned a second conference title in 2012 and a third in 2014.
Shelley’s players have also seen unbelievable success. He has coached eight NJCAA All-Americans, two preseason NJCAA All-Americans, one NJCAA World Series All-Tournament selection, six USA Junior College All-Stars, 26 All-Region VI performers, 143 All-East Jayhawk Conference recipients and 40 NJCAA Academic Award Winners, including a record seven in 2010 and 2016. In 2008, Doug Otto was a unanimous selection as the conference MVP, the first in the program’s history. He also became the first player to be awarded a Rawlings Gold Glove award. Shelley also has had two players receive a Rawlings Big Stick Award for posting the top batting average in JCCC’s NJCAA District.
To date, 41 of his former Cavalier players have been drafted or signed as free agents by the major leagues since he took over the reigns in 1987. Pitcher Travis Buckley became the first player put on the 40-man roster of the 1993 expansion Colorado Rockies. In August of 2002, power hitter Kit Pellow became the first former Johnson County player to make it to the Major League level, playing for the Kansas City Royals. Two years later, Pellow was the opening day starter in left field for the Colorado Rockies.
Four recent draftees, pitchers Lee Ridenhour, pitcher Matt Blackham, pitcher/outfielder Aaron Schnurbusch and first baseman Anthony Miller were drafted and signed to professional contracts. In the 2011 Draft, Shelley had three pitchers signed professional contracts, including the highest drafted player in team history. Jeff Soptic was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the third round.
While developing professional talent is impressive, Shelley is quick to point out the number of former players who have continued their playing and education at four-year universities and college. A total of 294 student-athletes under his direction have transferred to four-year institutions, 224 at the NCAA Division I or II level.
Shelley is also highly regarded by his coaching peers and his success at JCCC has earned him national recognition. In the summer of 1994, Shelley served as head coach for Team USA, a select NJCAA team from the United States that played host to a select team from Japan. The five-game series was played in Grand Junction, Colo., which is also the host site of the NJCAA World Series. In 1990, Shelley served as an assistant coach on the first NJCAA team to participate in international competition. The USA All-Stars from the NJCAA competed in the Friendship Games in Las Tunas, Cuba. He also has been selected as head coach of the Kansas Region VI Eastern Division All-Stars three times. Shelley also has the distinction of earning the first Louisville Slugger/Region VI coach of the year honor, after his team captured the Region VI title in 1993. In 2014, Shelley was named the East Jayhawk Conference Coach of the Year for the first time of his career.
But Shelley’s influence on junior college baseball is much greater than the many successes his teams have enjoyed on the field. Shelley has been active on both the national and international levels of junior college baseball. In January 1997, at the American Baseball Coaches Association annual meeting, he was selected as president of the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association. As president, Shelley represented the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association on the ABCA Executive Committee. Before that appointment, Shelley had just concluded a three-year stint as vice president of the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association. In addition, he served on the International Baseball Committee for that organization. He has also represented the NJCAA Baseball Coaches Association on the NCAA Division I baseball rules committee.
In 2002 Shelley was selected to serve on the Executive Committee of the American Baseball Coaches Association, becoming just the second coach from the community college ranks to earn such an honor. He has continued to move up the ranks, and recently completed the role of president of the ABCA, becoming just the second junior college coach to serve as president. He will continue to serve on the ABCA Board of Directors for life. The ABCA is the largest coaching organization with nearly 13,000 members around the world.
A solid background in baseball has helped set the stage for Shelley’s success at Johnson County Community College. He was a collegiate standout catcher at Pratt Community College and the University of Kansas. At Pratt, he was co-captain and most valuable player in 1980. At the University of Kansas, Shelley was elected co-captain in 1982. Following his senior year, he served as graduate assistant for the Jayhawks. Before taking the helm at JCCC, Shelley served one season at JCCC as assistant coach under Cavalier Hall of Famer Sonny Maynard.
In addition to his coaching duties at JCCC, Shelley also serves as an associate scout for the Kansas City Royals.
Shelley earned his bachelor’s degree in personnel administration at KU and completed his master’s degree in student/personnel administration at Emporia State University.
Shelley and his wife, MargE, have two daughters: Mandi, 28, and Madison, 22.