AMBUCS honoring Shockey

AMBUCS honoring Shockey

DANVILLE — It was 1993, and officials at Delta College in Michigan were ready to give up hosting the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division II men's basketball tournament.

That's when John Spezia saw an opportunity to bring the event to Danville Area Community College.

When the then-men's basketball coach took the idea to Dick Shockey, DACC's money man at the time, Shockey saw an opportunity to save the college money.

"John had gone in 1991 ... and we had to spend $7,500 that we didn't have budgeted," Shockey recalled.

So, he, with the help of his administrative assistant Sharon Geske, put together a winning proposal. Then the former coach and athletic board director took over as the tournament director.

"I wanted to make it a players' and coaches' tournament," Shockey said. "I wanted every kid to have a medal. If you go to a national basketball tournament, you want to have proof that you've been there and have that memory."

Since then, DACC has continued to put on the tournament. Though it's now overseen by a committee of 26 to 27 people, Shockey has remained front and center, and he plans to stay involved at least through 2017.

Community leaders say the event — which has grown from eight teams and a small number of dedicated volunteers to 16 teams and more than 300 volunteers — is recognized as one of the premier basketball tournaments in the country, has pumped millions of tourism dollars into the local economy and put the community college and Danville on the map for its hospitality.

Now Shockey is being honored as AMBUCS First Citizen for being the driving force behind the tournament, among other things.

AMBUCS national service club is dedicated to creating opportunities for independence for people with disabilities, especially children. Each year, the Danville chapter gives its First Citizen award to a resident who has contributed significantly to the community through projects, personally or professionally.

Shockey said he's honored to be the award's 81st recipient, though it came as a complete surprise. He, in turn, credited the event's success to the many "dedicated" volunteers.

"I don't think we always appreciate the fine talent we have in the Danville area," he said.

Here are 10 things to know about Shockey:

1. The oldest of three children, Shockey grew up in Lineville, Iowa, a small farming community that straddles the Iowa-Missouri border. "The Missouri side had the taverns, liquor stores and firecracker stands," Shockey said. You couldn't buy the explosives on his side but, he says, "I never had to pay for firecrackers. I could watch everyone else shoot them up."

2. His first paid job was poking wires through a wooden block to tie hay bales. He worked for his uncle, and believes he made about 2 cents per bale. The job, which he started at age 6 and continued doing through the summer after his first year of teaching, shaped his work ethic.

3. Cost of tuition his first year of college at Northeast Missouri (now Truman State)? Ninety bucks. He worked for a year after graduating from high school, and saved $675 to finance his college education.

4. He launched his long career in education as business education teacher at Grand Valley Community schools in Kellerton, Iowa, where unbeknownst to him, he would have to teach shorthand the four years he worked there. He was one of two male students in his college shorthand class.

"The other was the (school's) backup quarterback. We weren't nearly as fast as the ladies in the class. (But) we got through it," he said with a smile.

5. After teaching and coaching basketball, baseball, football and track at two different districts for eight years, Shockey was promoted to assistant to the superintendent at Wayne Community schools in Corydon, Iowa. He served as superintendent at two other districts for a combined 11 years. After starting work on a PhD at Iowa State University, he took an administrative position at Nicolet Area Technical College in Rhinelander, Wis.

6. In 1989, Shockey was recruited to become DACC's vice president of finance and administration by then-President Harry Braun. But he decided to pass on the offer after driving past the East Main Street campus and seeing the late 1800-buildings. He changed his mind after interviewing with Braun and hearing his plan to modernize the campus.

"I told my wife I'd be back in 45 minutes," Shockey said, adding his wife, Jane Ellen, and son, Rhett, waited for him in a motel room. "When I didn't come back in 45 minutes, my son said, 'Mom, what does this mean?' She said, 'It means it's not good, Rhett.' But it turned out to be great."

7. At DACC, Shockey led the college through a $40 million facilities campus master plan that included the addition of Lincoln Hall and the Child Development Center.

8. During his 16 years at DACC, colleagues said, Shockey was often the first to arrive, so he turned on the lights for everyone, and he was the last to leave. Since retiring in 2005, he said he's probably the third to arrive to his office in the basement of Lincoln Hall — after President Alice Jacobs and VP Dave Kietzmann.

9. In 2005, Shockey took on a part-time gig as Lakeview College of Nursing's CEO. During his tenure, the college's enrollment increased significantly; the Danville campus completed a $450,000, 2,500-square-foot addition; and its second location on the Eastern Illinois campus finished a $1.6 million, 4,900-square-foot expansion. Though he officially retired in December, he's still working on a part-time basis to see a new computer lab project through.

10. Shockey is looking forward to becoming a grandfather for the second time. He has an 8-year-old granddaughter, Rowan Shockey, and his daughter-in-law, Meara, is due in mid-May. "I'm anxious to see if the second one is going to be redheaded (like Rowan) or blackheaded like her mother," he said.

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