Shields learns from veterans, pays it forward

Lance Lysowski

On Jan. 20, 2008, Ellie Shields scored 31 points against Toledo. She was just a freshman then, but Shields has continued to be a force down low for the Kent State women’s basketball team. After Shields had her playing time limited last season, she has dedicated herself to being the Flashes’ leader up front. Sports reporter Lance Lysowski sat down with the junior to talk about her transition to the starting lineup, and her word of advice for the Flashes’ newest post player.

Lance Lysowski: You received a great deal of playing time your freshman year when Anna Kowalska was injured, and your playing time diminished last year when she returned. Did your experience last year prepare you to become the team’s starter?

Ellie Shields: I think sitting out made me realize how much I didn’t want to sit out (chuckles). It helped because it made me work really hard this summer, and playing under Anna made me a better player too.

LL: Did you learn anything specific from Anna when you played under her?

ES: I wouldn’t say specifically. I just think when you work against such a good player it definitely makes you better, especially when you do it every day for three hours a day.

LL: How does it feel to earn the starting job after two years of limited playing time?

ES: It feels really good. It makes me feel like I accomplished something, but since November, I’ve been struggling with a stress fracture in my foot and that’s kind of hindered my playing time here and there. It feels good to know where you stand on the team.

LL: If you had to pick one player to play one-on-one against on the men’s basketball team, who would it be?

ES: (Sophomore center) Justin Green. He’s such a good post player. He has really good post moves, and I would definitely want to play him.

LL: (Freshman center) Leslie Schaefer has received some playing time this year. As a player who has played the post as a freshman, have you offered her any words of advice?

ES: It is tough. I just tell her to keep working hard, and keep your head up no matter what because she’ll eventually get playing time. It’s one of those spots you have to work at to get playing time, especially since the center spot is the deepest spot on the team. We have three players at the position so it’s always a constant battle. I just like to encourage her, and not let her get discouraged. I know what it feels like because I was once there too (chuckles).

LL: You use the hook shot on a regular basis. Is it something you’ve been working on?

ES: I’ve been using the hook shot since I was a junior in high school so I always work on it.

LL: What does your pregame ritual consist of?

ES: I have a little Bible prayer book, and I read that before every game. I pretty much just pray and concentrate on what I want to get done. Over and over I tell myself how many points I want to score and how many rebounds I want to get. I don’t do the music thing.

LL: How long does it take into the game for your nerves to settle down?


ES: Right after tip (chuckles).

Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected].