Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with an area college lacrosse player to help you become more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is UMBC midfielder Shannon Harkey, the youngest of four lacrosse-playing siblings from Purcellville, Va. A junior, Harkey ranks fourth on the team in scoring with 12 goals and three assists as the Retrievers are off to a 4-2 start heading into Friday night's home game against Mount St. Mary's.
She began her college career at Florida but transferred before last season to UMBC; her father, Jay Harkey, played on the Retrievers' 1980 Division II national championship team before transferring and competing at Maryland. Her brother, J.D., and sister Jessie both played for UMBC.
Why did you decide to go to Florida?
Just because I love warm weather and I thought it would a really cool experience to go to such a big D-I school. I always wanted to compete at that level.
Did the family legacy have anything to do with drawing you to UMBC?
Both my brother and my sister went here, and so did my dad, and also I wanted to come home. I missed my family. I also was recruited here and when I went through my recruiting process, I really liked [UMBC co-coaches Tony Giro and Amy Appelt], so I decided to come here.
What was the biggest challenge in adjusting from Florida's game to UMBC's?
I actually liked it because I started playing midfield here, whereas at Florida I was just attack. I like running the field and being more in transition.
With three older lacrosse-playing siblings, did you really want to play or did you just follow them into the sport?
I was always the one watching and going to all the games, and I loved it. That was a big connection between me and my dad, and we always played outside when I was younger.
How is the team developing heading toward America East Conference play?
We're definitely clicking more than we have in the past. I think we're a lot more of a team on and off the field. We're all really close with everyone, and I think that helps a lot.
What are you hoping to accomplish personally this season?
My first two years I didn't really do much of anything on the field, and that really bothered me, and so I worked hard this summer just doing things I used to do, like playing on the wall. Just that improves my game. Having the muscle memory is my biggest thing. I want to score a lot of goals. I didn't score very much last year, and this year I'm scoring a lot more. I would like to get an award, like All-Conference or something like that.
What is your offensive style?
I run a lot. I like to drive from the top and I like to work with my teammates a lot. I don't like just doing one-[on]-ones. I'd rather do give-and-gos. I like feeding a lot, too.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I'm really big with yoga, and that's actually what I want to do when I graduate. I want to be a yoga instructor, so I've been practicing that since I was in eighth grade. My instructor growing up in my hometown, she just really inspired me to want to continue with it. She was a really big inspiration in a lot of ways for me.
What kind of yoga do you practice?
Bikram. It's really challenging. It's not just stretching and stuff like that. It can either be really fast-paced or you get into complex positions. I like challenging myself with that. It's a really hard workout.
How does yoga help your lacrosse game?
When I started doing it in high school, I felt like it made me a lot faster, just because my muscles got really loose, and that helps a lot. It's also helped me focus. I actually have [attention deficit disorder], and I think yoga has helped me a lot with focusing and just zoning in on things. The mental part is really big.
What do you enjoy about yoga that made you stick with it?
I really liked the classes that my instructor, Mindy Gunnels Piland, had. She was very upbeat and always had really fun music on with it. I love dancing, and there was one class that was like hip-hop class. It was still yoga, but it was very active and a lot of fun. From classes like that, I started to just love the entire practice of it. I just really like the lifestyle of yoga.
What is the lifestyle?
It's just very peaceful and open-minded in a lot of things. I think it's actually turned me into who I am today. I feel like it's made me very free-spirited and easygoing.
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