College freshman and California native Shannon Griswold has been playing competition soccer since she was twelve. Her tenaciousness and ability to lead by example brings new life to the Bruins this season.
For six years, Griswold was part of a women’s soccer club known as the Utah Avalanche. Playing for this college-level club helped influence her decision to join the Bruins at Salt Lake Community College.
“The team I played for really pushed for all the girls to play college soccer,” Griswold said. “So, [it was] a nice recruiting process and I ended up going to SLCC.”
Although she had considered playing for a four-year school such as the University of Utah, Griswold felt that the amount of time the Utes spend practicing and traveling would have taken away from the experience.
Being part of a two-year junior college athletics program, Griswold felt more relaxed as she became more comfortable with her role as a primary forward [striker] on the team. She is enjoying every moment of it.
“I love playing for SLCC,” Griswold said. “It’s a lot of fun [and] even though it’s not a varsity sport, we still take it really seriously. I think it’s a lot more fun at SLCC because it’s more of [an] exciting environment.”
The Bruins have eight returning players, along with eight new-comers this season, including Griswold
She has adapted to the competition level more quickly than other players have. Her ability to create plays for her teammates, while putting pressure on opponents to cause turnovers help inspire others to do better and assist in the work-ethic that she has.
“That’s her moral fiber, that’s her strength,” said Head Coach Jamie Schock. “Hard work is something that you would expect from all players, but [with Shannon] she adds an element, and the element that she adds to the hard work is tenaciousness.”
At just five feet in height, Griswold may seem small in stature, but her capabilities to play and take charge on the field as a starter prove that size doesn’t matter.
“Shannon brings a great spark to the team this year with her hard work rate and [with her] positive attitude [that] really helps inspire other players to put the same work level in,” Schock said. “She leads by example. She is respected and through her desire and hard work and positive energy that she exudes both on and off the field, she’s regarded as a leader on the team.”
While on a trip in St. George for a pre-season tournament, Coach Schock emphasized the importance of teamwork using the term, “Ohana,” a Polynesian word used widely in Hawaiian culture, meaning “Family.” The girls on the team get along well with each other both on and off the field and act as one united family.
“We seem comfortable and we all work really hard for each other,” Griswold said. “We’ve all got each other’s backs. We’re like a big team of sisters.”
Utah has the highest per-capita rate for soccer participants
Funding for sports at SLCC is handled by the Athletics department at the college. There are a number of factors to consider when putting money into each team, primarily, traveling, referees and vehicle transportation.
Sports are certainly an investment for those who play them. Placing appropriate time and money into them can help increase the opportunity for higher funding.
“I think a big part of the reason why we want to work so hard is because we want to show SLCC that we can be taken seriously,” Griswold said. “If we show that we can perform, then we’ll get more recognition and more funding. That’s our mindset.”
The team has certainly shared plenty of laughs while on the road. During its first in-state pre-season tournament in St. George, Assistant Coach Sean Crossland drove a minivan while Schock drove the team bus.
The inside-joke on the team was that Crossland appeared to be the “mother of the team” since he drove a vehicle more common for women with children.
“He looked like the typical soccer mom,” Griswold said.
Griswold is interested in majoring in elementary education. She earned an academic scholarship known as the Teacher Recruitment Scholarship, which will allow her to attend SLCC for two years then transfer to the University of Utah to finish her degree.