Northeastern Junior College honored outstanding alumni and supporters of the institution at its 28th annual Hoops Homecoming Awards Luncheon Saturday.
“Today is dedicated to that group of incredible individuals who exemplify the excellence that NJC continues to strive for. We’re honored to share with you the accomplishments of these people and extend our most humble congratulations and gratitude to all of the award recipients,” said Mark Kokes, president of the NJC Alumni Association.
NJC President Mike White also gave remarks, noting that the heart of the college is the community that formed around it and actually built it and that is seen with alumni who continue to give to Northeastern in so many ways. He thanked alumni for their continued interaction with students and for being an example to them.
Several awards were handed out during the luncheon, including the Pathfinder Award, honoring outstanding alumni or former students who have made outstanding contributions in their field of endeavor wherein training or education began at NJC.
This year’s recipient was Ken Shaw. He was born and raised in northeastern Colorado with two brothers, and was extremely active growing up in Merino, achieving numerous athletic accomplishments at Merino High School during his tenure from 1966-1970.
In football, he was a two-time first-team all-state quarterback and his team had two state runner-up finishes. But basketball was where he really shined: He was a four-time all-conference selection, a three-time first-team all-state player, a three-time leading scorer in the state tournament and his basketball team won 44 straight games, an all-time state record. Shaw helped lead Merino to two undefeated state championships and one second place finish; he is the all-time career scorer in state history, having 1,976 points in 79 games.
After graduating high school, Shaw went on to NJC, where he continued playing basketball from 1970-72. Over the two years, his teams had a record of 27-5, he made the all-tournament teams both years, was an All-Region IX First Team Selection in 1972 and he led the nation in free throws in 1971 with a 94%.
He then continued his basketball career at the New Mexico State University from 1972-1974 and was a varsity letterman.
After graduation, Shaw began an impressive 47-year teaching career, which began at Yuma High School in 1975. In 1981, he moved to Sterling High School, where he remained until 1986 when he moved to Fort Collins, where he taught for 16 years at Rocky Mountain High School from 1986-2001. Not yet ready to retire, he moved to Smoky Hill High School, in Aurora, teaching there until 2007 and now hangs his hat at Regis Jesuit High School, where he is the head basketball coach.
Along with his teaching, Shaw’s coaching career was nothing short of amazing. His ongoing record during his 47.5 years is 817 wins, which ranks him third in state history. He has led his teams to 25 state tournaments and 29 times to the final eight. He has five state titles as a head coach and one as an assistant coach.
“Ken throughout his coaching career has influenced and mentored countless students, his drive on and off the court is what showcases his true Pathfinder qualities,” said Laural Brownell, alumni association board secretary.
In the middle of his teaching and coaching career, he was the 1986 president of the Colorado Basketball Coaches Association.
Shaw’s accolades as a coach are pretty spectacular. In 2015 he was inducted into the Colorado Coaches Association Hall of Fame; he has been a four-time Colorado Coach of the Year; in 1999 he was given CHSAA’s Sutak award for coaching excellence, the most prestigious basketball award that recognizes coaches in the state; and in 2018 he was inducted into the CHSAA Hall of Fame as both a player and coach. Most recently the National High School Basketball Coaches Association honored Shaw with the 2021 John Wooden Legacy Award for boys basketball in Colorado, an award given to an outstanding basketball coach and educator who has achieved excellence on the court, in the classroom and in local communities.
Shaw has been married to his wife, Susan for 35 years. They have two children and one grandchild.
“Just this week here on campus a conversation was held about Ken Shaw. The biggest piece of the conversation was a former NJC student asking the group if anyone has ever seen this man shoot a basketball. He said ‘It’s an amazing phenomenon; the man is amazing.’ We agree,” Brownell said. “For almost half a century that man has committed to serving, teaching, coaching and changing lives in his towns, his schools, his state and now being recognized by the nation is one of the main reasons we’re honoring him today with the 2023 Alumni Association Pathfinder Award. His passion that he has put forth towards his impressive career is second to none; as we commend him for this it is nothing short of amazing.”
Upon accepting the award, Shaw thanked the Alumni Association. “It’s always great to be at Northeastern,” he said. “I am forever appreciative of NJC and the opportunities it afforded me when I came here as a freshman in 1970. Basketball coaches Lowell Roumph and Roy Edwards were my initial connection when I came here but over the two years here I developed so many relationships and friendships with numerous people.”
Shaw went on to share that NJC offered so much to him in terms of being a stepping stone as he moved on to other things in his life and now as he reflects back he appreciates the lessons learned and relationships built there.
“I would surely be remiss if I didn’t say how impactful NJC basketball was to me and my future invocation. Not only did coaches Edward and Roumph become lifelong friends, but their mentorship has been something that has always benefited me whether on the court or in my life,” he said. “Thank you for this wonderful award; it means a great deal to me.”