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Getting to Know ... Bill Shields

Staff Photo: Brandon Brigman. Brookwood boys track and field head coach Bill Shields is stepping down from coaching after leading the Broncos to the Class AAAAA state championship in May.

Staff Photo: Brandon Brigman. Brookwood boys track and field head coach Bill Shields is stepping down from coaching after leading the Broncos to the Class AAAAA state championship in May.

Bill Shields, 56, recently stepped down as Brookwood's boys track and field head coach after six seasons and leading the Broncos to the state championship.

Shields graduated from Franklin Academy in Malone, N.Y. and graduated from the College of Brockport in 1976 with a degree in physical education.

Shields, who is married to his wife Becky and has three grown children, Jennifer, Bryan and Lauren, coached and taught for 23 years in Florida before moving to Georgia. He spent four seasons as the head football coach in Duluth before going to Brookwood.

In this latest installment of "Getting to Know ...," Shields talks to staff writer Brandon Brigman about ending his coaching career with a state title, being a Florida football fan and how he met his wife.

BB: What made you want to retire?

BS: I'm going to step back from track. I'm still going to teach. I want to take a break. I felt I would let someone else do this for a while. When I came here six years ago the deal was I would coach track for two or three years and I put in six. I've really enjoyed it.

BB: Your last meet was a bit of a storybook ending by winning the state championship. Could you have ever imagined that?

BS: I knew we had a pretty good shot. We have some very talented seniors here. We felt if we could get certain people out of the region we would have a shot. A lot of things had to happen and they did. I'm really happy for our seniors and everybody really on our track team, program and coaches. It was an exciting finish.

BB: How did you celebrate that night?

BS: I went home and went to bed. (laughs) It's a great atmosphere at Jefferson and they do a great job. We went out to dinner afterwards.

BB: You spent four years as the head football coach at Duluth. How tough is the football in this county?

BS: I think it's great high school football here. I was involved for a number of years in the Florida-Georgia high school all-star game and I always thought the kids in Georgia were extremely well-coached. I think in the last 10 years this county has taken off. I mean it's very, very competitive. Someone in Florida asked me what it's like coaching in your county. I said if you get to the job at 11 a.m. in the morning you better have the matrix board up by noon because that's the expectations that people want. They want to make sure their kids are having the best. When you drive around this county and look at the facilities that's just amazing.

BB: So how does a guy from New York end up in South Florida?

BS: I didn't have a teaching job. I was in a program sponsored by the federal government and they cut all the jobs. I figured if I was going to be unemployed I might as well be warm. So the principal at Bishop Vero knew area I was from and called me up to see I wanted a job. I was the head track coach and the defensive coordinator and eventually became athletic director, met my wife there and we've been married for 28 years.

BB: You've been in the South for so long could you ever imagine going back North?

BS: Uh, never. Unfortunately, both my parents passed away and oh my gosh the weather there is unbelievable. Three years ago in July it was 95 degrees. I came home after three weeks. I went back after being here a week and when I got up in the morning it was 21. They said well it's a little cold this morning. I couldn't do that. I'm staying here. This is great area to live in.

BB: Any summer plans?

BS: When I get done with summer school, my wife and I are going to Maine. I have a friend of mine I coached with in Florida and he's retired up there. We're going to watch the Yankees play. I have season tickets to Florida. I'm a Florida fan, so I've been going the last few years. That will be a lot of fun. I still know people down there.

BB: Are you sad to see Tim Tebow leave?

BS: I'm very sad, but on the other hand I excited to see what happens with the program and where we're gonna go. I mean Tebow, he's just the best. He's just incredible. I know a lot of people are glad to see him go, but I'm sure he'll do very well in Denver.

BB: Is it tough being a Florida fan in Bulldog country?

BS: It's not tough. My daughter goes to Georgia and I hope they go 12-1 every year. If they can go 12-1 that's fine. When (Brookwood grad) Rennie Curran played there it was special. We go to some Georgia games.

BB: How did you meet your wife?

BS: Actually, I told this story at our banquet. I told them this is the second best banquet I've ever been to. They are all looking at me like what is he talking about. The first and No. 1 will always be in 1981. I had a young girl named Nancy Brooks that ran for me and she brought her older sister Becky to the banquet. That was the best banquet when I met Becky.

BB: How did you approach her?

BS: I went over there to Nancy and I said 'I'm Coach Shields would you like to go get some ice cream?' and she said sure. Nancy helped out a little bit.

BB: What's your favorite golf course to play?

BS: I've only played it once, but I thought it was tremendous. The TPC at Sawgrass. I got a four on No. 17. I hit the wood at the front and it bounced way up and I thought it was gonna go off the back, but it didn't. Then I almost putted it off the green in the water. That was great. I'm not a great golfer, I play at golf. If you can hit it as bad as I do and still enjoy it, I guess that's all right.

BB: You've coached for so long. Are there any moments that stand out?

BS: There's a lot of them, watching kids compete, having faith in them and you know they can do it and try to get them to understand and they will be all right. I coached my oldest daughter in softball one time, my son in football and Lauren was always around. Just working with all the kids and coaches. Yeah, I could probably tell you the scores of games, but those things aren't really important. I enjoy being around kids, I enjoy watching them compete.

BB: Now that you're not coaching track you're going to have a little bit of free time. What do you hope to do?

BS: (Laughs) My wife wants to know what I'm gonna do. I'm free to go to games that I want to and track meets. I'm still gonna help them run the home meets here. I told Jerry Arnold and Rik Moore, I'm coming to the county meet. I don't care if you need me to rake the pit or something else. I just want to stay involved. I'll be around.