Northern Star: Jacob Shields
For this week's segment, we feature a grad transfer on the UMD men's basketball team hoping to make a lasting impact on and off the court.
DULUTH, Minn. – UMD men’s basketball graduate transfer Jacob Shields just loves everything about basketball.
“This might be weird to people who don’t play basketball, but I just love the sound of the ball. Like coming down the court, I love the sound of the ball. I love the smell of the ball to be honest. And that might be weird but ever since I was a kid, this ball was something that changed my life basically, it made me want to be somebody,” Shields said.
Shields started playing basketball when he was six years old in his hometown of Houston, Texas.
“I grew up in the inner city, close to downtown, not too far from the University of Houston but it was kind of crazy. It was a hard upbringing to be honest. Not too many of the guys that I grew up with got the opportunity to leave,” Shields said.
One of four boys, Shields was raised by a single mother.
“I wouldn’t say she was more like a mom, she was more like a best friend,” Shields said.
As Shields started thinking about playing at the collegiate level, he was then dealt with tragedy, as his mom passed away when he was a junior in high school.
“It was difficult. It was real difficult to stay on that path. But at the same time, me and my mom, we always had a plan at the end of everything and that was to change our situation. Basketball gave me that key opportunity,” Shields added.
After two years at junior college and then two more at Concordia-St. Paul, Shields decided to head across the NSIC and join UMD as a grad transfer.
“I’ve played against these guys before and I know a few of the players that have returned and when we played them, they always told me how good I was and it made me feel like they really liked,” Shields said.
“He knew he wanted to be part of this culture. So I think he’s just grateful to be here, he’s going to help us be as successful as we can be but he wants to be part of a winning culture here for his last year in college,” UMD head coach Justin Wieck added.
While he’s excited to join the Bulldogs, Shields mainly came to UMD to pursue his Masters of Education.
“I really just want to help kids. I come from a place where a lot of kids didn’t really get that opportunity that I got and I just want to go back and give them that opportunity. Be able to help kids and give them that opportunity to make it from their situation. Get out of the ghetto to be honest,” Shields said.
Now, inspired by the coaches who helped him get to his point.
‘They’ve just accepted me and embraced me and never treated me like an outsider and no matter the race or the age, no matter where I was, they always just embraced me,” Shields said.
And his family who never left his side.
“My godparents are my everything to be honest. They’re my people, they’re my backbone. They’re my biggest supporters,” Shields said.
Shields hopes his story can be an inspiration to others.
“When you’re in that kind of environment, you can kind of think that this is all you’ll ever be or what you’re surrounded by is all you’ll have, and that’s really not it. Me getting out of my situation really helped me see that I wanted more. My godparents stepping into my life and taking me from the ghetto and showing me all of these different things really showed me that I want more for myself and my kids and I want to be able to help kids so they can see more as well,” Shields said.