MORRIS – From the time she first stepped foot in the athletic arena at Morris Community High School, Mya Shannon let it be known that she was something special.
She became the first Morris freshman girl to qualify for the state cross-country meet.
She went on to start on the varsity girls basketball team and varsity girls soccer team as a freshman. She ended her career with 12 varsity letters, four in each sport, one of a select few to have ever achieved that accomplishment at MCHS.
Her senior year was the culmination of that storied career, and she caps it by being named Morris Herald-News Female Athlete of the Year.
Although she was a standout in both cross country and soccer, she probably could have won the award on her basketball play alone.
She finishes her basketball career, which will take her to DePauw University in Indiana in the fall, as the leader in career points (1,558), points in a season (551) and points in a game (40).
Success seemed to follow Shannon.
Not only did Shannon become the first Morris freshman girl to qualify for the state cross country meet, but she was part of the team her junior year that was the first Morris girls team to win a regional title.
“My junior year of cross country was amazing,” she said. “Winning the regional on our home course was awesome. My hip was bothering me most of my senior year, and I was only able to run about five or six races.
“But, it was still worthwhile, because I was able to keep in shape and not just sit around. I would go crazy if I couldn’t do something.”
When cross country ended, it was time for Shannon to pick up a basketball. Not only did she lead the team in scoring at 20.5 points a game, but she also averaged 9.0 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 2.0 assists a game. It is that type of all-around game that attracted the college scouts.
She is one of those players that, despite all the numbers, you really have to see in person to appreciate. She faced every kind of defense imaginable, and was able to think her way through it.
“We knew this would be a building year for basketball,” she said. “We had so many young players up. A lot of freshmen played, and we had one that started all year. But, it was fun because every game we could feel like we were getting better. With such a young team, it really was a learning experience all year.”
One of the learning experiences for Shannon, the daughter of Wes and Lisa, came in a game against Plano in which Shannon set the single-game scoring record she had shared with Julie Jurasits.
When the game finished, some people had Shannon for 40 points, but the official scorer, ironically Wes Shannon, had her for 37. The coaching staff went over the game again and discovered that she actually did have 40 points for the record.
Even with all that, the record is not what stands out for Shannon.
“That was a two-point loss to Plano in our home opener,” she recalled. “We were up by a lot in that game and lost. As far as learning experiences go, that one was a dagger.”
Shannon went on to pass Jurasits as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and now has the record by 393 points.
“I never really thought about the scoring record,” she said. “My freshman year, we had Julie on the team, and that was awesome. I will remember that team a lot because we would always have at least five different people scoring. We had a good team.”
As her career progressed, Shannon was asked to take on more of the scoring role for the Redskins. When she gets to college at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, she will be able to display her all-around talents.
“I am going to be a point guard in college,” she said.
“I was just told that a couple of weeks ago. I did it my freshman and sophomore years in high school, so it won’t be that big a change.”
She feels her senior season will help her in that capacity, as well as what her future might hold.
“I was kind of a coach on the floor this year, and having so many freshmen out there with me this year, it really prepared me for anything. I have seen both sides. I was a freshman playing with seniors and I was a senior playing with freshmen. I think that helped me this year, and it’s going to help next year at college.
“We have 10 incoming freshmen and seven sophomores. There are only three upperclassmen, so I am excited to be part of building the program. I am really looking forward to my junior and senior years there.”
When basketball ended, Shannon hit the soccer field with her customary gusto. It is the sport she has played longer than any, and one she is going to be sad to leave.
“It’s going to be real hard to give up soccer,” she said. “What I liked about it was that you didn’t need to be so careful in soccer as you do in basketball. There was one game against LaSalle-Peru where I had a really bad day at school and I was able to kind of take it out on the soccer field. You can be more physical in soccer than you can in basketball.”
Shannon began her soccer career as a defender, but, much like basketball, she was called on to take a larger role on offense during her junior and senior seasons.
“I have always played defense,” she said. “I liked playing defense. If I could have been a goalie, then maybe I would go to college and play soccer. But, we needed me to play midfield and forward, and that was fun, too.”
Shannon will not be a stranger to the soccer field at DePauw, as her former Morris teammate, Amanda Grant, plays for the Tigers.
“I will definitely be going to some soccer games,” she said. “That’s another thing I am excited about at DePauw. The school really runs on its basketball and soccer teams. There are a lot of people that come to those games and those athletes are really appreciated.”
Shannon said she has plenty of memories of Morris she will take with her – such as a buzzer-beating shot by Leona Burton to beat Yorkville, a pair of two-point wins over Kaneland in her freshman year, and beating Providence Catholic in a regional soccer game. But it is her coaches that she will most likely remember most.
“I had the same coaches for all four years in all three sports,” she said. “And some of those I knew even before I got to high school. We got to be pretty close. Even though I am done with high school, I still talk to them often and I am sure I will continue to do that.”
Their influence may guide her career decision, even though she has initially chosen kiniesology as her major.
“I really want to be a coach,” she said. “I got to help out with the freshman girls team at the high school this summer and I really liked it. I will see how things go at college, but I can really see myself coaching in the future.”
Shannon has proven that, no matter what she does, she will be successful.