RCW: Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk: Shameika McField
Fourteen years later and just 40 minutes east of Lawrence, Shameika McField, along with other Kansas alumni, bring the culture that was created at Kansas to the track & field program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC).
McField was a member of the Kansas track & field team from 1999-2003 and has since continued her success as a student-athlete to a graduate assistant, an assistant coach and finally to being named Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Coach of the Year during the 2014-15 season for her head-coaching role at UMKC.
McField’s path to being the best track & field coach in the WAC started in the early recruiting stages when Kansas reached out to McField about becoming a Jayhawk. Coming to KU had always been on McField’s radar as Kansas was the first to recruit McField out of high school and she’s forever grateful she never looked back.
“I knew that Kansas had a historically great program and the coaches there were doing great things,” McField said. “The coach at the time was one of the first to start to recruit me, so I felt obliged and compelled when I came on campus and saw everything KU had to offer.”
Being from St. Louis, Missouri originally, McField was looking for a place that could let her grow into the athlete and adult she wanted to become. The Kansas staff was patient and encouraging throughout McField’s five years at KU and was able to give so much back to her not only in competition, but also in her life once her collegiate career came to an end.
“I always say that my growth, my leadership, my maturity and my competitive spirit was a gift while I was at KU,” McField said. “I was born in St. Louis, but I was raised at Kansas.”
Along with competing for the Jayhawks on the track, McField put her limits to the test in other organizations on campus, such as the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Being a part of SAAC allowed McField to make connections that she would have never have made otherwise and she was exposed to different environments that gave her a different perspective on what it meant to be a student-athlete.
McField wanted to help current student-athletes who were like herself and guide them on to their path of “what is next” after graduation. When the opportunity presented itself to do just that, McField knew she couldn’t pass it up. UMKC called and wanted McField to not only be a part of the Kangaroos’ track & field staff, but also come on as an academic advisor. Providing the resources to be successful after graduation has been the most crucial part of coaching for McField.
“For me, the academic pieces have always been important and I think that we should share more accolades pertaining to academics than on winning titles,” McField said.
Taking the academic role ensured that McField continued on with her goal of working in athletics, but at the time, she didn’t know what that meant about a future in coaching. That was until the athletic director at UMKC walked into McField’s office asking her if she wanted the job in 2008.
Throughout the years, McField has seen every side there is to coaching because of the many positions she has held. McField has shadowed coaches, filmed practices, recruited student-athletes and has run program operations. Although McField’s coaching roles have varied over the years and are bound to continue to change, one thing remains the same.
“The overall scheme of everything is ‘mind over matter’ and being able to give all that you have for the team,” McField said.
The coaching style McField instills into her student-athletes everyday comes from the trials and tribulations she experienced herself as a student-athlete. In her five years as a Jayhawk, McField suffered multiple hamstring injuries that left her sidelined numerous times. Being able to dig deep in those times of hardship and now be able to reflect back on what those times in life taught her, McField uses those experiences of being injured herself to coach her student-athletes today.
“This may sound strange that I appreciate it so much now,” McField said. “I think that it helped me grow and allowed me to really define myself in the sport instead of the sport defining me.”
When McField started to put together a team of coaches who would stand beside her and make UMKC track & field the best program it can possibly be, she had to look no further than her Kansas roots.
McField brought on Benaud Shirley as an associate head coach and horizontal jumps coach. The two competed together as Jayhawks and have now coached together as Kangaroos from almost the very beginning. McField knew she could trust Shirley and that he was the right person for the job. At Kansas, Shirley was a nine-time all-Big 12 Conference jumper, conference champion in the outdoor triple jump for the 2002 and 2003 seasons and he was an NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Championships participant.
“Coach Shirley has been here from almost day one with me,” McField said. “I knew him as a teammate, I knew his passion for coaching and I knew that I could trust him.”
Another addition to the coaching staff hailing from KU is assistant coach Brian Bishop. Joining the staff in 2014, Bishop brings his past success from Kansas to the throwers at UMKC. Bishop advanced to the NCAA West Regionals in 2010 in the discus.
“At the time, Bishop was just graduating from Kansas and I knew that he was an extremely technical coach who would fit perfectly into our program,” McField said.
The third and final piece of McField’s current Kangaroos coaching staff is Ryan Hays. An assistant coach who specializes in pole vaulting, Hays came to UMKC after being a NCAA qualifier in the pole vault and a Big 12 Conference scorer for the Jayhawks.
“I had been begging (UMKC) for a pole vault and high jump position and Hays was coaching high school,” McField said. “I specifically wanted him for the job.”
The Jayhawk legacy continues to thrive just east on I-70 as UMKC’s program continues to grow, improve and will eventually be put on the map as a great track & field program.
“I think for us, (both) myself and the staff, there’s a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because we are still in the area, but it’s a good feeling knowing we are from a place that focuses so much on their student-athletes and their future successes,” McField concluded.
Once a Jayhawk, Always a Jayhawk.