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QUEST 2018: Mentored by Mike

November 15, 2023
Mike Shines

As The College of Idaho mourns the passing of our longtime coach and mentor, Mike Shines, we share this feature story about him from our Fall/Winter 2018 issue of our alumni magazine, Quest, written by longtime professor Alan Minskoff.

Seated in his poolside office, Mike Shines exudes calm strength. The one-time weightlifting champion is C of I’s Director of Aquatics and Strength Training. Shines helps athletes rehabilitate from injuries and manages strength training for the swim and ski teams. He is a man with a code that is captured in a frame above his desk, “Recommit yourself daily to work as hard as possible.”

In 1991, he started at C of I working with the basketball team. By the mid-1990s Marty Holly offered Shines the position of Director of Aquatics and Strength Coach. Today he works with many athletes, preparing workout programs and doing rehab. Coach Shines has won a lot of fans among C of I student-athletes for his focus, caring nature and his abilities as a mentor. Many look to him to structure their rehab—in the pool and out. Fewer realize that he was a nationally-honored weightlifter who helped organize the sport in our region.

What matters most to all the C of I family is how many students have benefitted under his care, tutelage, and from his personal commitment to them. Swimmer Thomas Sheridan ‘18 said this about Shines:

Coach Shines leads a lot of physical therapy in the pool for injured athletes, but athletes aren’t the only people that have access to Shines’ wisdom. Students with no affiliation to athletics have been known to come to the pool simply to talk with Mike for a couple of minutes. Whether you are a swimmer, another athlete, or just any old student, Mike Shines’ door is always open to you.

Interviewed for the college’s YouTube channel, senior Abby Schwarte talked about how she and Coach Shines bonded during her sophomore year when she was ”diagnosed with a heart condition” and had to be out of the water for several months. Coach Shines helped her through her stress and frustration. She is a big fan: “I don’t think I could have gone through this if it weren’t for Coach Shines.”

Beyond his duties at the college, Mike Shines passionately fights against domestic violence. His book "I’ll Never Tell," now in its fourth edition, is dedicated to helping raise awareness of this horrific problem. The coffee table book combines handsome colorful and calming photographs with inspirational messages. Proceeds from the book’s sales go to the cause.

Mike Shines has taken his passion for lifting and shifted into teaching, coaching and helping students through their injuries and listening to their problems. When not busy managing the pool schedule (Shines organizes the renting of the facility to other organizations), he continues to lift, teach, mentor and provide C of I students with a true role model.

Click here to see an image of this story and click here to read a story about his book, which he called "the top" of the list of his personal accomplishments.

The College of Idaho has a 132-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including eight Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit