LINDSBORG — As fall student-athletes arrive to Bethany College in August and begin preseason camp week, Bethany will welcome a special guest to campus.
On Saturday, Aug. 9, Paul Shirley will address Swedes fall student-athletes, beginning at 6:45 p.m. in the Burnett Center.
Shirley is a former professional basketball player who now writes, teaches, speaks and runs a writing workshop in Los Angeles.
"I've known Paul for many years, and he has a unique message from his time as a student-athlete to share with our fall student-athletes," Bethany Dean of Athletics Dane Pavlovich said. "His message will relate well to current issues our student-athletes are experiencing, and his keynote address should be a great start for the 2014-2015 school year."
The chief goal of Shirley's address will be answering, "What good will come of being a student-athlete…especially at a small school?" He will share stories about how being a student-athlete helped him personally after college, specifically with confidence, time management, and health and wellness.
"I'm thrilled to have the opportunity to speak to the student-athletes of Bethany College," said Shirley, "in part because it will allow me to escape Los Angeles for a few days, but mostly because I've thought long and hard about my own experiences with the intersection of sports and academics and have entirely too much to say on the subject. I'll try not to be boring."
Shirley was born in Redwood City, Calif., and grew up near Meriden, Kan. He played high school basketball at Jefferson West High School prior to playing for the Iowa State University Cyclones. Upon graduation, Shirley played for 13 different professional basketball teams: the NBA teams the Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, and the Chicago Bulls; and Panionios Athens of the Greek A1 League, Joventut Badalona, ViveMenorca, Unicaja Malaga of the Spanish ACB League, and UNICS Kazan of the Russian Super League.
While playing professionally in Greece when he was 23 years old, Shirley started writing journal entries, and has since continued to do so. While playing for the Phoenix Suns, the team asked him to write for their website, thus bringing Shirley's writing public as he composed his "Road Ramblings" blog.
Shirley then signed a book deal and wrote a book, titled “Can I Keep My Jersey?: 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond,” published by Random House in 2007. Professional basketball ended four years ago for Shirley, and he has since developed his writing career. He has written for Esquire, Slate, ESPN.com, and the Wall Street Journal. He is the chief editor for FlipCollective and also does a NBA podcast with fellow author Justin Halpern.
Shirley has presented talks about his books and writings at Varsity Letters in New York, for Dia de Sant Jordi in Barcelona, Spain, in Spanish, and for various elementary schools and high schools in the Midwest. Shirley's most recent large-scale speaking event was at Bethel College in Newton. this past winter.