When Ken Shipley heard the news, it took him by surprise.
Even after 13 years of leading the dominant girls’ golf program in the Central Section, he never thought his teams’ excellence on the links could land him the state’s most prestigious coaching honor.
Shipley was named the 2019-20 California State Coach of the Year in girls’ golf, as well as West Section Coach of the Year, by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) last week.
“I’d never even thought about it before,” Shipley said. “I had no idea it was coming when someone nominated me.”
Shipley beat out eight other coaches from California who were nominated in November for the state award. He also beat out the top coaches from Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah to garner the West Section award as well.
Those are two more awards Shipley can add to his collection, after he became the second Clovis Unified School District (CUSD) coach to win the CIF State Model Coach award back in the 2017-18 school year (the first CUSD coach to win was Clovis High cross country coach Rob Brenner in 2007-08).
Humble as ever, not only was Shipley surprised by winning State Coach of the Year, he diverted praise onto the student-athletes.
“This award is the result of the type of girls who play golf at Kastner and Clovis West, and their families,” Shipley said. “It is the direct result of our young ladies taking on challenges and striving to become better in school, golf, and with others.”
Shipley guided the 2019-20 Clovis West girls’ golf team to TRAC, Northern Area (Fresno and Madera), and Central Section Division-I championships. What stood out about last year’s Clovis West team compared to other champion teams under Shipley was their youth: the Golden Eagles featured four new varsity golfers and returned only two from the previous year.
“It was a young team that worked very hard and became very good,” Shipley remembered.
It was one of many “very good” teams Shipley has had at Clovis West: since he retired from a senior administrator position at Fresno State and became the Golden Eagles’ head coach in 2007, his teams have won 13 TRAC titles, 12 Northern Area championships and 11 Central Section championships in girls’ golf. Since 2010, Shipley has coached 14 girls who went on to play college golf.
“It certainly has been the most successful girls’ golf program in the Section,” Shipley said. “This award probably just reinforces some of the things we do and success the girls have had.”
Currently in his 14th year at Clovis West, Shipley also served as an assistant coach at Kastner Intermediate for six years before junior high golf moved from the spring to fall, which conflicted with the high school season happening during the same time.
Throughout all of his years training young golfers, the newly minted state coach of the year taught his teams to focus on one thing — and it wasn’t winning championships.
“We always focus on improving as individuals and a team, and very rarely talk about things like winning or losing,” Shipley said. “If we do our best, use good technique, use self-discipline and good self-management skills, we will see good things when we look at the scoreboard afterwards.”
That’s the formula that has led Clovis West to continued success, and Ken Shipley to his latest coaching accolade.