NewsThe Road Less Traveled - Catching up with Kenny Chaffin
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - Kenny Chaffin is no different than any other athlete. He had dreams of playing basketball at the Division I level and also moving on to the professional ranks. However, Chaffin is different from most athletes in that he has different priorities.
As a senior at Marysville High School, Chaffin received a full-ride scholarship from Western Michigan University, an NCAA Division I school. Despite signing with the Broncos, his heart still said that Mount Vernon Nazarene University was the place that he needed to be. After making the trip to Mount Vernon to watch the Cougars play, the high school All-Ohioan talked things over with his parents and prayed about his decision. Then, he told Western Michigan that he would not be playing for the Broncos after all and signed with MVNU.
"I know that it was God's plan for me to go to Mount Vernon Nazarene University," said Chaffin. "There was a lot of pressure for me to attend a Division I school, but I kept praying about it and I know that MVNU was where I was supposed to be."
During Chaffin's four years playing for the Cougars from 1998-2002, the team posted a 95-40 overall record and qualified for the NAIA Division II National Tournament twice. Chaffin capped off his senior year by leading MVNU to its first-ever National Christian College Athletic Association national championship as he was named the Most Valuable Player of the NCCAA National Tournament. He was a three-time NAIA Division II Honorable Mention All-American and finished his career ranked third in school history in career points (2,062) and fourth in career rebounds (834).
After graduating with a bachelor's degree in Health and Physical Education in the spring of 2002, Chaffin began to pursue opportunities of playing basketball professionally. After sending out information to various sources, he became the third MVNU basketball player to play professionally as he signed on with Amicale Laique Montivilliers, a Division 3 team based out of Montivilliers in the Normandy region of France.
At the end of the summer, Chaffin and his wife, Elizabeth, boarded a plane and headed to France, which would be their home for the next seven months. Chaffin joined his new team, which had finished second in its league the previous year, and soon became a fan-favorite with his outstanding play and friendly personality.
Over the course of the season, Chaffin led Amicale Laique Montivilliers to an 18-4 record and the Division 3 championship. He averaged 23.9 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 55 percent from the field. He also made 66 three-pointers in 22 games as he connected at a 45 percent clip from beyond the arc. As a result of winning the title, the team will move up to Division 2 this season.
"I am certainly proud of Kenny not only being able to play professionally, but also having such an outstanding season," said MVNU head coach Scott Flemming. "It was a great way to top off a tremendous college career. He has meant a lot to our program."
At the conclusion of the season, Chaffin had a tough decision to make. The team offered to nearly double his salary to lure him back for another year. However, Chaffin chose instead to return to his hometown of Marysville to take a Severe Behavioral Handicap teaching position and also the junior varsity coaching job at his alma mater. This would also allow his wife to finish up her degree that she had put on hold for a year.
"The whole experience was great for Liz and I," said Chaffin of his time in France. "We really feel blessed to have had this opportunity. God has been so good to us. We were able to travel to Paris, Rome, Brussels, and London while we were in Europe. We have had experiences that not many people our age have the opportunity to have. It was incredible to play for another championship, too. I have been fortunate enough to play for championships at the high school and college level, and it was definitely a highlight of mine to win one in Europe. The community that we lived in really embraced the team and it was huge for us to win."
"At the end of the season, Liz and I made the decision not to return to Europe," Chaffin added. "We felt that this was the best decision for us and for our families. We will never have any regrets about taking a year and going to France, but it was definitely time to move on. Now, I am trying to make a difference in the lives of some special needs kids, and Liz will graduate in May with her Elementary Education degree from MVNU."
Even though some would question his decision to pass up the opportunity to make more money playing the game that he loves, Chaffin has always been one to take the road less traveled. He has his sights set on a career in education as he strives to have a positive impact on his students.