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Student-Athlete Alumni Profile: Shannon Smith
March 22, 2017

By Lorin Cartwright

Imagine that you need to move and the most important room to you in the house is the size of the bedroom closet. Most would think that a closet is for clothes, but for Shannon Smith – it’s for hundreds of pairs of sneakers. It is a good thing she left some sneakers at her family home in North Carolina, in her bedroom closet, and in storage. When you are a sneakerhead, closet size is the most important room detail in the whole house.

Shannon began collecting sneakers when she was very young. She has a photo of herself wearing a pair of Jordan high tops when she was six years old. Nike Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s Nike brands are her favorites. But like father, like daughter, her father Kevin got her started collecting tennis shoes. Her dad has just as many loafers as she has tennis shoes. But, as it turns out, the loafers he wears are much more expensive than her tennis shoes.

Being a sneakerhead means tracking shoes for release dates, being first in line to purchase them, and collecting rare and limited editions, which all comes at a price. She follows several websites to make sure she knows when and where to get the shoes she likes. When do you know you are a sneakerhead? When you realize you know the first name of the salespeople at Foot Locker and Champs.

As a student-athlete on scholarship, Shannon was fortunate to have some extra cash with which to purchase shoes. In addition, there are always Christmas, birthdays, and special occasions when you hope your family and friends may give you a gift of that special elusive pair.

She has had to slow down her purchase of sneakers now that she is in her first year of a Master’s Program in Health Services Administration. Her mother thinks it might be time to sell some of her sneakers. Shannon thinks if she has to let some of her sneakers go due to the storage space issue, she might give some to people who do not have shoes.

Collecting tennis shoes has brought her many fun encounters. Shannon and her father were attending a basketball game (in Chicago???) seated in the Michael Jordan box. While Shannon says “my father knows everybody,” it was still a pleasant surprise to see Michael himself walk in! “It was great to meet the man who’s shoes I was wearing.”

Most sneakerheads collect retro shoes, one of a kind, and Shannon is fortunate to own a few. Her most expensive pair of shoes, Balenciaga, cost $850. . Included in Shannon’s collection of retro shoes are Nike Foamposites, Nike Air Force 1 high tops, a pair of sneakers with no laces, and a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors.

Unlike many sneakerheads, Shannon wears most of her shoes. When headed out on the town, she thoroughly believes that her shoes and the outfit must match.

Playing for the women’s basketball team is another of her favorite things, even though her road to Ann Arbor took several interesting turns. Shannon’s mother and father first met at Michigan State University. Her father, Kevin, was an exceptional basketball player for the Spartans, as a two-time All-Big Ten and captain at MSU. They bleed green and white!

As the 2010 North Carolina Miss Basketball, she was pursued by many college coaches. The University of North Carolina won her over, and she enrolled in the fall of 2010. Shannon ended up red shirting her second year and then decided she wanted a new beginning.

The next step was to find a four-year university that was a good academic and athletic fit. Shannon remembered assistant coach Chester Nichols, who had recruited her during her middle school years. Coach Nichols was then coaching at the University of Michigan. Michigan was on the upswing in the women’s program, and academically the university is in the top 25 in the country. Unfortunately, there was no scholarship available at the time, so she agreed to go to Trinity Valley Community College waiting for a scholarship to open.

In the fall of 2012, Shannon made the move Trinity Valley Community College. She became consumed by basketball and continuing her education. She led Trinity Valley to the National Junior College Athletic Association national women’s basketball championship, where she was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Her arrival at the University of Michigan came in the fall of 2013, where she started 27 games and was named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention by coaches. She led the team with an almost 14 point per game average. When Michigan played in the WNIT Shannon had 13 assists which tied a single game record. In her senior year she started every game, averaged almost 14 points per game and was again named All-Big Ten Honorable Mention (C. interactive). The two-time academic All-Big Ten Honor Roll student-athlete ended her career, again looking forward to the next challenge.

Shannon learned many lessons from her family and she realizes that her family will always be there no matter what happens in her life. She has a tattoo that says “Family First” which exemplifies her feelings about her family. After a fabulous basketball career, she took a gap year, and determined a new direction. Her mother, Ramada Smith, is an obstetrician gynecologist in North Carolina so Shannon was drawn to health care and is pursuing a career as an administrator of an emergency room or operating room. Who knows if she will be able to sport that sneaker collection as a hospital administrator, but just in case, she leans toward loafers, but she also has high heeled shoes in her favorite bright colors orange and royal blue. She has recently started to collect her father’s favorite shoe – loafers. She may soon need a bigger closet.

Interactive, C. (2015, June 17). Shannon Smith bio - Michigan women’s basketball. Retrieved February 17, 2017, from http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/w-baskbl/mtt/shannon_smith_848204.html


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