It was just over four years ago that 2015 Bel Air High School graduate Shannon Williams ventured west, to attend and play women’s lacrosse for the University of Oregon Ducks in Eugene.
In just a matter of days, Williams will make the walk with other Oregon graduates, closing out a phenomenal career as a student-athlete.
Over her four years, Williams, an attacker, has been honored with lacrosse team honors and team records, culminating with a pair of prestigious awards won as a senior.
The honors started in her freshman season. She was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Women's At-Large Second-Team; a member of the MPSF All-Tournament Team; and a three-time MPSF Rookie of the Week.
Oregon played in the MPSF (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) conference for Williams‘ first two years and the Pac-12 the final two years.
The awards continued in 2017 as a single-season record holder in points per game (4.24); First Team All-MPSF in 2017; and MPSF All-Academic.
Williams’ single-season record for points scored with 74 in 2018 earned her a First Team All-Pac 12 selection.
Her senior season started off with an Offensive Player of the Week in the Ducks first week of the season. It ended with a third selection to the Pac-12 All-Academic Team and another All-Pac 12 conference selection.
Williams also set records for career goals (158) and points (252).
It was after this senior season, though, that Williams was honored with two major awards.
The first was the 2019 Pac-12 Scholar of the Year award. Williams, who will earn her degree in Health & Human Physiology & Biology, was sporting a 3.95 GPA.
Williams spoke by phone Tuesday about her time and the awards.
“I think that epitomized what I tried to do, in my time, was to prioritize academics,” she said regarding the scholar award. “Because I do enjoy that and I have goals of pursuing a very academic-oriented job in medical school one day.”
More recently, Williams was the winner of the school’s Senior Female Athlete Jackson Award. Williams won the award, beating out four female athletes from softball, basketball, golf and track and field.
“I was really honored to receive that one just because of my peers being the ones who choose,” Williams said. The Jackson Award is voted on by other student-athletes and coaches and staff.
In her four years, the road has not been completely smooth for Williams and her teammates. The team has endured three coaching staff changes.
“Definitely went through some growing pains this year. I’m glad that I was here for the first year for this coaching staff,” Williams said. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes, I think that my class as a whole, the four seniors, we’ve just become so close because of it. We’ve really learned to lean on each other and what the meaning of a team is, through all of those different obstacles we had to face.”
Although it’s been more than four years, how did Williams end up all the way out there, 2,400 miles away?
“My family was always very supportive of me doing what I wanted to do and really encouraged me to come out and visit Oregon. Once I came out here, everyone always talks about, like you get a feeling when you just like know, and when I was leaving campus, after my visit my junior year of high school, I had that feeling,” Williams said. “I’m glad I acknowledged it and I’m glad it worked out for me because I really have had the best four years here at Oregon. I knew as a student-athlete I would be able to succeed in both athletics and the academics part.”