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Athlete Worth Watching: Erin Shanahan

Dec 14, 2015 10:05AM ● By Cate Reynolds
by By Tom Worgo

Archbishop Spalding High School // Field Hockey

The words patient and hungry are the best way to describe Archbishop Spalding senior Erin Shanahan.

Her patience is obvious to her U.S. Under-17 National Indoor Field Hockey team coaches, who cut her four times before the forward earned a spot on the U-19 squad in May in her fifth attempt to play for a national team.  

“I have been trying out for the indoor team for a couple of years now, and I was not going to try out again,” Shanahan explains. “But they changed coaches, so I gave it a shot again. I finally made it, but I didn’t really expect to. It made all the tryouts worth it. I just think it’s really awesome to make the team.”

Spalding field hockey coach Leslee Brady said Shanahan’s accomplishment is a rare feat for local players.

“She is one of the first girls from Anne Arundel County to make that team,” Brady explains. “It’s a big deal and a very hard team to make. At this point, the next level is Olympic Development. The players from the Under-21 team are going to the Olympics. The U-19 kids are looking to be at the pinnacle of field hockey.” 

Making the U-19 National team is all part of an exciting year for Shanahan, a Pasadena resident.

She earned National Field Hockey Coach Association Second-Team All-American honors last December and a month before that signed a national letter of intent to play field hockey at the University of Virginia while turning down offers from Maryland and Old Dominion.

The 18-year-old Shanahan has been playing the sport for 10 years, starting in the Severna Park-based Gaels Field Hockey Club and competing on teams that have played in high-caliber tournaments as far away as Florida and California.

“Erin wants to play in the Olympics,” says Joan Johnson, the director for the Severna Park-based Gaels Field Hockey Club and the head coach at Chesapeake High School. “She will be coached at the University of Virginia by Michelle Madison, who will keep moving her forward to get her there. Erin is just a natural. She is so much fun to watch.”

The five-foot-seven, year-round player has had an eye-catching career at Spalding, totaling 74 goals and 55 assists in her first three years for the Cavaliers. Her first two seasons were particularly impressive.

Shanahan finished with 25 goals and 20 assists as a freshman, then amassed 31 goals and 21 assists as a sophomore, while scoring the winning goal in overtime in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game against McDonogh.

The game-winner came on a penalty stroke after she also scored earlier in the contest.  

“She has this reputation,” Brady says. “Everybody knows about her. She is constantly playing through double and triple teams. It would be very easy to get frustrated with that kind of attention, but she handles it very well. It’s something I am constantly amazed by.”

Brady says that Shanahan practices harder than any player she’s ever coached.

“She is the kind of person that is almost like a gym rat,” she explains. “I constantly see her on the field during non-practice time with her teammates. She is the first one at practice and the last one to leave. She is just constantly working on her game.”  

 All the hard work has certainly been worth it.

“Erin is the best field hockey player in the state of Maryland indoor and outdoor,” says Johnson, who has coached Shanahan for nearly a decade. “She lives in the Chesapeake High school district, so it’s a bummer for me that she goes to Spalding. She has a great work ethic, but more than anything, she is a team player. She just wants what is best for the team, and she is very humble.”  

Shanahan also played lacrosse at Spalding, starting on junior varsity at attack as both a freshman and sophomore.

Because her future looks so much brighter in field hockey, staying with that sport is a no-brainer.

“Lacrosse was a sport I loved playing, but I had a lot of conflicts with field hockey,” says Shanahan, who carries a 4.0 grade point average. “So I decided to concentrate on it and better myself in the sport. It was a very good decision for me.”