Shane Hubble: A Scholarship that Made a Difference
To talk to Shane Hubble, it is easy to
forget what the man does day-in and day-out for a living. With a large
sense of humor and a friendly air about him, the 6-5, 225 pound former
Pirate defensive lineman belies the seriousness that awaits him every
morning when he straps on his sidearm and prepares for another day on
the job as a member of the Pinellas-Park police force in Largo, Fla.
Nestled in the shadow of bustling Tampa
Bay, the community of about 70,000 people knows Hubble not as the
jovial, even prankish, football player, but rather as a trusted
For most of the past nine years, Hubble has
been working as an undercover narcotics detective and is a member of
the Pinellas-Park S.W.A.T team, confronting life in the underbelly of
society close up.
“I really felt like I could make an
impact,” Hubble said of his career-choice. “So after I got my degree (in
Criminal Justice) and did my internship (for the Pitt County Sheriff's
Department), I decided to
make a career out of it.”
And it has been a career that, at the very
least, is not boring, though Hubble admits that life as a Sergeant is
not as adrenaline-packed as the narcotics work.
“We did a lot of undercover operations where I
purchased a lot of cocaine, crack, ecstasy,” he said of the job. “I was
doing a lot of hand-to-hand deals where you do buys and long-term
undercover investigations. Stuff like seizing assets, drawing up
warrants and serving them, things like that.
“I haven’t been in any shootings, but once a guy
did try to run me over with a car.”
It might very well be that bit of humor in a
serious moment that has been the largest success factor for Hubble as he
continues to exceed even his own expectations coming out of a working
class family in Florida.
Coming out of high school, Hubble’s playing status
was hinging on a late test score and his future seemed certain to be an
enlistment in one of the armed services. And, that would have been all
right with Hubble, who was never afraid of hard work. But, opportunity
“I was facing the likelihood of Prop 48 (status),”
Hubble said. “Schools were backing off and I was waiting for scores. I
really never planned on going to college. No one else in my family had
gone and I was all set to go into the military. I had never heard of ECU
and when they called, I did a little research and I was like, ‘Hey, it’s
a Division I school. Hmmm.’
“They flew me up and Donnie Thompson (former coach
and recruiter) said, ‘Art Baker wants you, we are signing you today.’ I
was excited and signed…”
For Hubble, whose scores did arrive fully
qualifying him, it was the opening of a door he never knew really
existed. For his family, who lacked the means to send their son to
school, it was a Godsend.
“They were excited for me, really excited,” he
recalled. “Especially when they heard the words ‘full scholarship.’ We
weren’t even middle class. That scholarship changed my life direction a
For Hubble, the scholarship meant an opportunity to
take a step that no one in his family had taken before. And, it meant a
challenge that would force him to become a man.
“When you go to college, you grow up real fast,”
Hubble said. “It gives you a different perspective on life and helps you
appreciate things more. Football threw me into a group of guys from all
over the United States with different backgrounds and attitudes and
personalities as well as the challenge of the academics. It gave me a
great perspective on life that I would never have gotten, I think, if I
had not gone to ECU.”
As a player, Hubble was always on the slight side
for his 6-5 frame, weighing in at barely more than 220 pounds, but his
attitude more than made up for the size deficit. Even in retrospect, he
is able to laugh at himself as a player.
Hubble in his days as an ECU defensive
“I played on the defensive line and played all
three positions,” he recalled. “Every year, the coaches would say that
they were bringing someone in to replace me and every year, they never
could. Well…they did bring in Ernie Logan and he was a stud, but I fought
You could say that Hubble probably was just happy
to be there, and he enjoyed every moment, even if the football team wasn’t
winning many games.
“You know, I hadn’t even really flown much until I
got to ECU,” he said. “Football was my first opportunity to travel and
to see so many states and cities. It was an incredible experience for
me. I especially liked Philadelphia ‘cause those cheesteaks really kick
ass — and we also beat Temple pretty good.
"Going to Syracuse, NY, and Virginia Tech and then
coming back home to Florida to play Florida State and Miami…I really
At school, he diligently pursued his Criminal
Justice degree, though he admits that he was a little bit of a
“I always had fun,” he recalled. “I didn’t
necessarily like to be the center of attention, but I would crack a joke
now and then.”
Like the one he cracked on former Syracuse fullback
Daryl Johnston when the Pirates – Hubble in particular – had stopped the
bruising runner on three consecutive carries during a goal-line stand in
the Carrier Dome.
“I was playing nose guard and I made three tackles
in a row against Daryl Johnston,” Hubble said. “And after the third one,
I looked at him and said, ‘All-America my ass!’ And then he looked at me
and said, ‘hey, look at the score!’ I looked up at the scoreboard and,
ummmffff, it was like 41-28…oh well.
“I’ve never really been too serious, I guess. I can
get along with a lot of different people. Now it is more about knowing
when you need to be serious. Some guys think there is only one way to be
in a situation, but I’ve learned that you need to be flexible.”
Hubble credits the tightness of his ECU team for
providing the foundation on which his career is built.
“At ECU, we were losing a lot games and everyone
gets upset, but we were a pretty tight group and we knew we had enough
athleticism to be good,” he said. “When you go through three-a-days and
winter conditioning at 5 a.m. before classes, and you work hard in the
weight room together, it really builds camaraderie. There is something
special about being part of a group that works together and looks out
for each other.
“I am on the SWAT team as a team leader,
supervising eight guys in high risk situations. Each guy has to take on
faith that the other will be where he is supposed to be when he is
supposed to be there. We have to trust each other with our lives. It is
the same with football, to a lesser degree.”
Being part of a team is something Hubble knew he
could not give up in his life. And though the highs of camaraderie are
very high, the lows can be much lower than he ever anticipated.
“September 11th really hit us all very
hard,” he said. “It really felt like you lost one of your own brothers.
You know every time you go out to do the job you are putting your life
on the line for others, but (the WTC bombing) was devastating to the police
Hubble said that since the tragedy in New York, he
has noticed that his own community has rallied to the support of its own
guys in blue.
“Everything has changed,” he said. “It seems like
everyone has come together more and understands. Our generation missed
Vietnam and has kind of had it easy, but everyone now seems to sense
that it is our time to pull together. It has made the work much easier.”
And now that he is a Sergeant, he is not out on the
streets as much, unless the SWAT team is called. Though he misses the
day-to-day excitement of the Narcotics Division, he knows that his wife,
Karen, and their six-month-old daughter, Marlee, sleep much easier these
days, knowing Daddy will come home each day. They give him a purpose in
life… make it easier to be a good person.
Hubble is very proud of the man he has become and
he holds ECU’s contribution to that close to his heart, beneath the
badge he so proudly wears.
“The biggest thing for me was graduation,” he said.
“I was able to fulfill my dream of getting a college degree. (College)
allowed me to make it to where I am today.”
These days, when he's around a group of guys talking
football, one will inevitably mention that Shane played and the others
will act surprised. Hubble will tell them about ECU, which many of them
have heard of, and they will look at him a little differently.
“I think a lot of people wonder where I came from,”
he said. “They are surprised that I played Division I football and it
gives them a different perspective on me. I feel good when that
Today when he looks back at ECU, he remembers the
changing seasons, the walk from the dorm to the Sports Medicine
building, and he remembers his teammates and the good times.
Today, he stays in excellent shape, competing in
5Ks and teaches new police candidates how to protect themselves, and he
looks forward to a long career in the police service, whether it be
where he is or perhaps someday in the federal arena.
“For me, (ECU) changed my life. I will always
remember those times.”
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