University of Kansas '82
26th 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.
Shelley is in his 27th season at the helm of the highly successful Johnson County baseball program. The winningest coach in JCCC history, and one of the all-time leaders in the KJCCC, Shelley has amassed an impressive 780-505-1 mark (.607), leading four teams to Eastern Sub-Regional championships and three 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 should come during the 2014 campaign.
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 26 seasons as a college head coach, he has produced 15 teams that have surpassed at least 30 wins, and his teams have racked up at least 20 wins in 25 of his 26 years at the helm. From 2008 through 2010, Shelley racked up over 40 wins each year, winning 41 in 2008, 43 in 2009 and a personal-best 44 in 2010. He led JCCC to 40 wins in 2012. 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, and last season his squad captured the KJCCC Eastern Division Conference championships, the first since 1984.
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, five USA Junior College All-Stars, 20 All-Region VI performers, 108 All-East Jayhawk Conference recipients and 28 NJCAA Academic All-Americans, including a record seven in 2010. 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, 31 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. Three recent draftees, Chris Nash, selected in the 2006 Major League draft by the Cleveland Indians, Justin Miller, drafted by the Dodgers in 2007 and Travis Blankenship, drafted by the Astros in 2010, all signed contricts. In the 2011 Draft, Shelley had two pitchers selected, including the highest selected player in team history. Jeff Soptic was taken by the Chicago White Sox in the third round and signed a professional contract.
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 233 student-athletes under his direction have transferred to four-year institutions, 203 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.
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, 25, and Madison, 19.