Chanman's Blog

SF Prep Hall of Fame – accepting the award for Shannon Rowbury

Posted in SHC Cross Country,SHC Track & Field by Andy Chan on May 17, 2008
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You can probably tell, I’m not Shannon Rowbury.

Shannon Rowbury is younger than me.

Better looking than me.

And can run a whole lot faster than me.

I am Shannon’s coach from her high school days at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, and it’s an honor to be accepting this on Shannon’s behalf.  Shannon couldn’t be here tonight because she has an important race tomorrow as she prepares for the Olympic Trials.

Shannon’s only 23 years old and is really at the beginning of her career as a professional runner.  After leaving the Fightin’ Irish, she received a full athletic scholarship to Duke University where she was a 6-time All-American and won the NCAA title for the indoor mile in 2007.  Since graduating from Duke, she has been sponsored by Nike and is coached by John Cook, who has experience coaching Olympians and American record holders.

This past February Shannon won the USA Indoor 3000 meter championship.  Just two weeks ago, in a meet down at Stanford, she ran 4:07.59 for the 1500 meters, which as of that night was not only the fastest this year by an American, but the fastest in the World. 

Shannon, is definitely one of the top middle distance runners in the country right now, which makes her goal of making the US Olympic team for this summer’s Olympics in Beijing a very realistic possibility.    

Shannon did want me to read this note to all of you:

Hi Everyone. First off, I wanted to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for bestowing such a great honor upon me. I wish I could be here in person to express my gratitude, but I know that the smile on Andy’s face will be a good substitute for mine.

Although I physically accomplished the things that earned my induction into this impressive group, I was only able to achieve what I did in High School because of the people around me. I knew nothing about running when I began as a Freshman. Had I found myself on some other team, my life may have taken a very different path. Somehow, I was lucky enough to come to Sacred Heart Cathedral at the exact moment in time when they decided to place a new emphasis on track, and so, Andy Chan and I were able to begin our journey together. I know that Andy will blush reading this, but I cannot think of a better coach out there, and I credit him for a lot of the success that I have been able to achieve in running. He taught me the most essential lesson any athlete should learn: The importance of balancing focus with fun. That mentality has kept me logical about training, which in turn has kept me mentally and physically healthy, and loving my sport to this day.

The other most influential people in my life have been my friends & family. I am fortunate to have cousins, aunts, uncles, extended family, and pseudo-relatives that have given me unwavering support. Above all, though, I owe the greatest thanks to my parents, Gary and Paula, and to my grandmother, Aileen a.k.a. Nonie. Since I was a child, they always told me to reach for my dreams and that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do. While the latter statement is not entirely true, the never-ending love and support they gave me allowed me to approach every new venture with confidence, because even if I failed, I knew they would always be there to pick me up again.

Lastly, I would like to thank Ray Monterroso. If he hadn’t recalled my name from bygone days, I (well technically Andy), wouldn’t be standing here right now.

As I said before, there are countless people to thank for what I have achieved. I wish I could thank each person individually, but suffice to say that each one has touched my heart, and I will be forever grateful.

Thank you most sincerely,

Shannon’s high school career was a magical ride for both her and me.  Every season just got better and better.  First a win at a local invitational.  Then a league championship.  Before we knew it she was winning section championships, setting records, getting ranked on the national leader lists, and winning 2 state championships and 1 national championship.  It was all new and exciting to both of us and I am glad that throughout the 4 years, we took time to just enjoy it. 

All this from a girl who broke her leg in kindergarten and took up dancing to strengthen her leg.  She started off with ballet but then switched to Irish Step Dancing.  When she entered high school, she had no running experience and her athletic plans were to join the SHCP soccer team.  She came out for cross country to get in shape for soccer.  It was my first year as head coach at SHCP.  The rest shall we say, is history.

I get asked a lot, “Is Shannon going to make the Olympics?”  Well, no one knows the answer to that.  But what I do know is that Shannon is leaving no stone unturned in her preparations for the Olympic Trials in Eugene in July.  The 1500 meters is 3 ¾ laps around the track.  I believe that with 1 lap to go in the race, Shannon will be one of maybe 5 or 6 women with a chance to finish the race in the top 3 and thus qualify for the Olympics.  At that point, it will all come down to the next 60 so or seconds.  So tune in on July 6 and watch those 60 seconds.  And cheer hard for this San Francisco Prep Hall of Famer to make us all proud and fulfill her dream of being an Olympian.

On behalf of Shannon Rowbury, thank you.


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