Shannon Swanson to be recognized
The Minnesota Coalition of Women in Athletic Leadership will be honoring a Faribault County native on Wednesday, Feb. 7.
As part of the 32nd annual Minnesota Girls and Women in Sports Day, Blue Earth Area youth development coordinator Shannon Swanson will be receiving the Breaking Barriers Award. The award recognizes Swanson’s achievements on the basketball hardwood, as well as her contributions to the community.
Held at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, the award ceremony will feature some of the most prominent female role models in sports and academics from the North Star State. Swanson says she is quite humbled by the award.
“To be honest, it all came as a surprise to me,” Swanson says. “There’s a lot of great women from our state that are paving the way for young females in sports, so I’m honored to be nominated and to have won it.”
A Winnebago native, Swanson played her high school basketball for the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers. After a stellar high school career in which she accounted for 2,702 career points, Swanson earned a scholarship to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
At the collegiate level, Swanson went on to become a four-year starter for the Gophers. In her sophomore season, Swanson had the unique opportunity to compete in the 2004 NCAA Final Four in New Orleans against future WNBA superstar Diana Taurasi and the legendary Connecticut Huskies.
Once her college career concluded, Swanson continued following her passion for hoops as she became an assistant head coach at Winona State University for five years. Swanson says her desire to take on mentorship roles comes from the guidance she received from her three older siblings, as well as her parents, Steve and Janet Schonrock.
“They are two of the most hardest working people I know,” says Swanson. “They’ve shown an extraordinary example of work ethic and how to be good at what you do.”
Ironically, the decision to coach at Winona State led Swanson to meet her husband Colby, who is the head basketball coach for the Blue Earth Area boys team. As fate would have it, the pair met at a Winona State basketball game.
Now a days, priorities have certainly changed for Swanson. With three children, Ella, Drew, and 10 month-old Lindsey in the mix, the mother of three has switched gears with her career. Rather than devoting her time to the rigors of coaching college basketball, Swanson gains fulfillment from her new role at BEA. She began working as a youth development coordinator at the high school in August, 2016.
“Knowing that I have three sets of little eyes on me all the time, it puts a lot of things into a bigger perspective. Everything has a lot more meaning.”
Although Swanson has put away her coaching whistle, she still has a deep passion for the game of basketball. Along with husband Colby, the couple has organized a summer youth basketball camp for the past few years. The camp, entitled “Shoot the Rock,” is held at Blue Earth Area High School and it is open to both boys and girls.
Passing the love of basketball onto the next generation brings Swanson great fulfillment. The former Division 1 student-athlete recently took her oldest daughter, Ella, to a Golden Gophers alumni day event at Williams Arena in Minneapolis. Swanson says the look on her daughter’s face at the gathering was far more meaningful than any basket she ever scored as a player.
“That was really special for me because she’s old enough now to understand that I played there,” Swanson says. “For her to see it and be amazed by it, it adds another dimension to those accomplishments and makes it so special.”
“The Breaking Barriers award is about leadership as well, and it seems like my whole life I’ve been afforded the opportunity to have certain leadership positions,” she continued.