Former Missoula Resident, Kent Shaffer, Honored in Cut Bank

By JIM O’DAY

A former resident of Missoula, Kent Shaffer, was recently honored in Cut Bank by having the timing shack at the Cut Bank Track and Field Complex named after him.  That’s quite an honor for the man known by the nickname “Sarge” around much of Missoula. A good friend for many years, Kent passed away a year ago (March 2, 2013) in Cut Bank – a community he self-proclaimed in his many newspaper stories as “The Penguin City” for the large penguin statue that greets traffic headed into town from the east.

The legendary sports reporter/ teacher/ athletic director/ coach/ organizer was known for many things during his tenure in Cut Bank, but perhaps the major contributions he will be remembered for most are the many records he kept – both in terms of athletics and just general knowledge. Shaf had a unique personality – quiet and unassuming, yet loved by so many across the Hi-Line.

Shaffer's Shack

Kent was born in Devils Lake, N.D., to Donna and Bob Shaffer in 1948, and the family later moved to Missoula where in 1966 he was a member of the first graduating class from Hellgate High School. Kent worked as a sports reporter for the Missoulian, and in 1968, he enlisted in the Army, serving in Korea until 1970.  After an honorable discharge in 1970, he attended The University of Montana on the G.I. Bill, and was the first of 12 siblings to earn a college degree.

Shortly thereafter, Kent moved to Cut Bank in 1975 where he taught special education for 30 years before retiring. During that time, he also coached football and middle school track and field, but perhaps he was most widely recognized for organizing many wrestling, basketball and softball tournaments. He was also the president of the Cut Bank Booster Club for 20 years. Along with his best friend, Mike Reynolds (originally from Polson), they developed a middle school track and field program that was the envy of north-central Montana. In his spare time, he kept records of almost anything imaginable, and also wrote a newspaper column (“KR Recalls”) and sports stories for the Western Breeze newspaper, which I owned at the time, and later for the Cut Bank Pioneer Press.

Many in Missoula were also aware of his love for fast pitch.  While growing up in the Garden City, he first organized a baseball league on the vacant lot on 13th Street in the Franklin area, and another near the Shaffer homestead on Palmer Street, which many referred to as “Shaffer Stadium.”   Years later, he would organize the Moe Smith Fast Pitch Tournament.

Shaf was also well-known for his entertaining Christmas letters, and especially for his football “newsletter” — which attracted many subscribers from Cut Bank to Missoula each week. The humorous “abuse sheet” that followed with the weekly results was a treat for those who participated for many years.

While some of the Shaffer family still resides in Missoula, and the Shaffer name is quite well known here, Kent will most likely be remembered most for his many years along the Hi-Line.  That being the case, it’s only appropriate that “Shaffer’s Shack” will be overlooking those many youngsters each spring competing in track and field at the Sports Complex outside of Cut Bank. The only thing missing will be the humble gentleman with his notepads, pencils and glasses who did so much to promote their sports.  He may be gone, but he won’t soon be forgotten!  The residents of Cut Bank made sure of that… and those of us in Missoula who knew him should also appreciate that one of our own made such a mark for the youngsters across the Hi-Line.

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Check out Jim O’Day’s blog archive. Vacating UM’s 2011 Big Sky Conference Title is WrongBig 10 Decision Could Have Major Impact On FCS SchoolsAre Predetermined Tournament Sites in the Big Sky Conference’s Future? What the Financial Numbers mean for UM/MSU Athletics. Hiring/Retaining College Coaches is Becoming ToughFormer UM Coaches/Missoula Stars Making it Big in College FootballWhy I chose to Make It Missoula, The Ups & Downs of Being a Griz Fan, Once a Griz, Always a Griz.

Jim O’Day was Director of Athletics at the University of Montana from 2005-2012. He also served as the Assistant Director of the Grizzly Athletic Association (1998-2000) and later as the Director of Development for UM Intercollegiate Athletics (2000-2005).

Prior to returning to his alma mater in 1998, O’Day was the owner/publisher of the family-owned Western Breeze newspaper in Cut Bank, MT. He was also sports editor of the Kalispell Daily Interlake from 1980-82.

In late 2013, Jim started his own consulting business, O’Day Enterprises, LLC.  His main clients include Farran Realty Partners, a private equity real estate development/investment firm based in Missoula; Epio Solutions of Seattle/Missoula, an agency primarily focused on branding/marketing/public relations utilizing various social media platforms for businesses, universities, non-profits and individuals; and BancVue, a company based in Austin, Texas, that aligns itself with small community banks and credit unions across the country to compete against the large mega banks. In addition, Jim is consulting for various oil and gas firms, as well as providing valuable professional resource services for intercollegiate athletics, fund-raising, capital raises, employment opportunities, etc. 

Jim and his wife Kathy have three sons: Chris, Kevin and Brian – all three graduates of The University of Montana.

 

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