Student athlete Annie Shannon gains support from campus

Feature by Cassidy Witherspoon, Student Reporter

Standing at 5 feet 10. GAC Tennis Player of the Year for 2015-16. Pacific Oceania team member. Female athlete.

Annie Shannon sounds daunting. One encounter with the personable, bubbly young woman certainly causes a change of perspective, however.

The young woman might have accomplished a lot in her life, but she doesn’t let it get to her head. Humble, quiet, sweet, caring and down to earth are just a few words used to describe Shannon by her coach and her teammates.

Shannon grew up in Fiji to a Fijian mother and an Irish father.

Her parents played tennis often, and that’s how she first got introduced to the sport.

“My dad would play mostly,” Shannon said. “He encouraged me and asked if I wanted to start doing competitions.”

Shannon has been honing her skills ever since. She has participated in tennis camps, championships and many matches with her Reddie teammates.

Shannon came to Henderson for a few reasons. She liked that it’s a smaller school where the teachers are more one-on-one and her parents really encouraged for her to attend.

Arkansas’ geography was a stark contrast to Shannon’s home. “Fiji is just so, alive and green and relaxing,” Shannon said. “I really miss the food. I’ve asked my mom to send me recipes but she hasn’t.”

Shannon is very fond of her teammates. They are all like a big family. She especially holds her coach, Brenda Joiner, in high regard. “Coach Joiner is awesome, she’s like a second mom,” Shannon said.

Very good friend, Amanda Korinihona, speaks lots of praise of Shannon.

“We met in 2003 at a tennis camp in Fiji, and we’ve travelled to New Zealand and Australia to represent the Pacific Oceania team,” Korinihona said. “Annie is one of the sweetest people I have ever met, very down to earth, caring, and hardworking.”

Unfortunately, even people like Shannon have to face tragedy.

 Shannon’s father passed away near the end of February.

 Shannon rushed home as soon as she could. Last minute plane tickets, medical expenses and funeral costs all add up to place a financial burden on their family.

Shannon doesn’t let this affect her. Instead, she decides to remember how her father helped shape her life.

“My father was annoyingly smart and disciplined,” Shannon said. “He taught me how to manage numbers. That’s why I want to get into hospitality after I graduate. He also taught me how to play.”

“The one thing he taught me that I always remember is, no matter the score, don’t give up, and that it’s okay to lose as long as you tried your hardest.”