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BRATTLEBORO — A former Brattleboro Union High School athlete is set to be inducted into the Vermont Principal Association’s (VPA) Hall of Fame.

Joe Shield, who was born and raised in Brattleboro, will be inducted into the VPA Hall on May 12 for his athletic achievements.

Shield was a three-sport athlete at BUHS, playing baseball, basketball and football. It was the beginning of a career that would see him become a professional athlete — drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 11th round of the NFL draft. Shield was a member of the team’s roster in 1985 and 1986.

During his junior year in college, Shield said he began drawing interest from scouts for Major League Baseball and the NFL, but it became obvious that football was the sport where he would most likely continue his athletic journey. The year before he was drafted, Shield said he was invited to the scouting combine in Tempe, Arizona.

“That was an indication that I was very much on their radar. They would invite I think 15 quarterbacks nationally there and I think I did very well,” Shield said. “You kind of have a sense of where you stand athletically, at least, with some of the other quarterbacks and then once the combine was over that’s when more teams were coming to scout me and work me out at Trinity (College) in the winter of that year.”

Growing up in Brattleboro, Shield said some of the people he was around at the time helped shape his work ethic and greatly contributed to the success he had as an athlete.

“During early childhood my family lived on Laurel Street, which was in the shadow of Harris Hill Ski Jump. The people in that neighborhood were some that I truly looked up to, and was inspired by for years to come. For example, around the corner on Spruce Street was the Galanes family. Older brother Jim and his training partners became Winter Olympic endurance athletes, but in the summer, Southern Vermont would become a training ground for them, on our roads,” Shield said in an email. “You could witness first-hand the intensity of their training and preparation. The impression this had on me as a young, impressionable kid was significant.”

Shield said he also benefitted greatly from his coaches, which included Darrell Sawyer, Carl Tenney, Bill Holiday, Ralph Momaney, and Butch Lapan. He also said the presence of Andy Natowich and Al Libardoni played a significant role in his progress as an athlete as well.

It was from these coaches that Shield said he and the other athletes learned to be smart, tough, have resolve, and to play hard. Beyond that, Shield said they were also life coaches. He said he learned that while it was important to win, there were other things that were more important.

“It was the way we prepared, played the game, persevered through adversity, stayed together as a team, and conducted ourselves, that was most important to the coaches. The character of their teams was always at the forefront. No matter the team record at the end of the season, one thing that was always consistent was how teams prepared, and how they conducted themselves. How they represented the team, the school, and the town. I believe that is a wonderful, underlying, and shared experience for everyone that was involved in athletics at BUHS, no matter what sport they participated in.”

In football, Shield helped lead the Brattleboro football team to the state championship in 1978. In 1980, he was the co-captain of the team that represented Vermont in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl, a game between high school stars from New Hampshire and Vermont that has been taking place each year since 1954, according to New Hampshire has won the majority of these contests with a record of 49-16-2-1, the one representing 2020 when the game was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In the 1970s, Vermont was successful in a several of the matchups, winning six of the 10 games played between the states. In 1980, Shield would help lead the team to victory once again with a 9-7 win. It was the last time Vermont would hold the bragging rights until 1988.

Shield was also a standout baseball player in high school and a career .400 hitter.

He continued his success in both baseball and football when he decided to attend Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. Shield said he was drawn to the college for a number of reasons.

“It was very fortunate. It was good luck. It was fate and I was also very fortunate that things aligned. It actually was one of the later schools that I looked at and when I did it just felt like an immediate match, academically as well as athletically. It also provided the ability to play both football and baseball in college.”

During his freshman year, an injury to the starting quarterback for Trinity led to Shield being put in the game, according to information from the Brattleboro Historical Society. He never relinquished the starting job after that and over the course of his career set a Trinity College record with over 6,600 passing yards. In 1983, Shield was named the New England Collegiate Division II and III Offensive Player of the Year.

His accomplishments in both football and on the diamond, where he was a co-captain for both teams, led Trinity College to induct him into the college’s hall of fame in 2019. Two years later BUHS inducted him into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class. He was also inducted into the Worcester Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 2017. Shield graduated from the school in 1981, and was named Worcester’s Male Athlete of the Year that year.

Over the past 30 years, Shield has been in the Health Care Technology/Informatics industry, working with hospitals in various client services roles. Though he currently lives and works in Connecticut, Shield said he maintains a close connection to Vermont.

“I loved growing up in the town, and I love coming back to visit. I’m in town quite frequently visiting my mother and aunt, and love to ski,” said Shield. “I am a very proud native of Southern Vermont.”

The VPA Hall of Fame class of 2023 will be formally inducted on Friday, May 12 at the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Montpelier. The induction ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6:45 p.m.

For more information about the nomination process, the criteria for selection, the current listed of inductees, the committee, and more, visit: