Shannon in action

Shannon Lechner – Lacrosse player-coach drives the team onwards

Having completed her undergraduate degree at Pennsylvania State University in the US, Shannon is now a Lacrosse scholar at the University of Exeter and coaches the team whilst studying for a postgraduate degree in Education. 

Before arriving in Exeter Shannon had never previously been overseas, but spotted an advert for American student-athlete graduates to study abroad. In the US, only undergraduates are allowed to play sport for their university and Shannon was delighted to learn those rules don’t apply in the UK. Coming to Exeter gives Shannon the chance to play and coach in the sport she loves to a high level at The Times and Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2016 as well as studying at a leading Global 100 University. 

As player-coach, Shannon has a unique eye on what’s going on during the match which gives her an advantage over coaching from the sidelines, but also works closely with the club captains to ensure the players are fully prepared for games. “I actually really enjoy it because it’s easier for me to feel and see what’s going on, and it’s nice during practices to just step off for a second, take a look and see what’s going on, so I can contribute that way. Sometimes when you’re in the mix of it, you can’t really see what’s happening, but as I’m an attacker it’s easy to step off and watch the defence. I make a practice plan, and the captains are really helpful as well, we always have a meeting after game days, so every Thursday we get the team together and talk about strengths and what we can work on for next time to set up playing the following week. So I’m adjusting the plays, whereas the captains do more of team morale.”

In the UK, we hear about the incredible scale of investment in US college sport, but Shannon compares Exeter favourably to Penn State. “The facilities here are amazing. I know Exeter is one of the most prestigious for athletics, and I went to Penn State which is a monstrosity of athletics and this is very similar. Penn State is just a little bit bigger.” How do the two countries compare in terms of the way sport is balanced with studying at university level? “It is very different, because in the States you would never miss a practice, whereas over here people may leave practice early for a lecture. In the States, they schedule lectures around your practice and training. So that is the biggest difference, because the priority here is on academics.” Shannon hopes to inject some American attitude into the team “I’m trying to bring that intense morale to the girls, and get them excited to compete. Once we’re on the field it’s intense, but sometimes it’s hard to get everyone ‘up’ for early morning trainings, which is understandable.”

Shannon is really enjoying her life at Exeter and is learning many new phrases and traits, admitting to slowly getting used to some very British aspects! “I had no idea what a flapjack was before I came here. We don’t have them in the States so I’d never tried one, never heard of it. It’s also ‘training’ rather than ‘practice’; it’s a ‘pitch’ rather than a ‘field’. First of all when people were saying ‘the pitch’, I was wondering where and what is that? I’m trying to catch up on the slang but a lot of the time I’m sitting there in confusion. I don’t understand sarcasm, but I’m slowly starting to catch on! I know they’re probably joking, but at the time everyone seems so serious…”

Lacrosse is one of nine focus sports at the University and ranked 3rd in the UK British Universities and Colleges Sport Rankings for 2014/2015, with club members achieving National and International recognition. The University of Exeter Sports Scholarship Scheme is one of the most prestigious in the UK, helping the best student athletes reach their full potential. The scheme provides a comprehensive support package and is tailored to suit the needs of each individual athlete. Many of our graduating scholars have progressed to a professional level in their chosen sport and represented their respective countries on the global stage.

For more information and contacts details about the Lacrosse visit the webpage.

Exeter named UK’s top university for sport
The University of Exeter has been named as the Times and Sunday Times Sports University of the Year 2016, in recognition of excellence in sports performance, education and research.
The award acknowledges Exeter as the best in the country in academia and athletic achievement across a wide range of sports. It takes into account the University’s outstanding support for athletes, very high student satisfaction in sport-related programmes and world-leading research which enhances athletic performance at all levels.
For more information about this story contact Andrew Fry.
Date 11 November 2015

Date: 10 November 2015