In the past, the Slippery Rock women’s soccer team has prided themselves on the culture that the team has. This culture doesn’t only include winning, but it includes values that bring everyone together and makes it a family-like atmosphere. A huge part of maintaining that atmosphere has to do with a few things, but one of the biggest is the leadership on the team. And one of the best examples of leadership on The Rock Women’s soccer team is Senior Captain Shannon McIntyre.
“Shannon just cares a lot and it’s a genuine, deep care for her teammates and this coaching staff, and she’s so selfless. She does a lot for everybody else, and her dedication to caring for other people is so admirable,” Coach Jessica Giegucz said.
McIntyre was brought in by Coach Giegucz and at first, she didn’t even know what Slippery Rock University was. McIntyre was at a competition in Columbus when she was first introduced to the coaches of Slippery Rock. Then she took a visit to Slippery Rock, where she met one of the leaders of The Rock soccer team, Emily Aldridge. And then, after seeing that Slippery Rock had her desired major (early childhood/special education) and talking to Giegucz and her staff, McIntyre made the decision to come to Slippery Rock.
McIntyre had an immediate impact as a freshman, as she appeared in all 18 games and had 8 points. The following season she would start all 19 games for The Rock and wouldn’t miss a start after as she started all 22 games her junior year. And it turns out, that nothing would compare to the challenge that McIntyre has faced her senior year, and the challenge has nothing to do with soccer.
“[During this time] it’s been hard trying to keep everyone connected and it’s been hard to keep morale high, especially being a senior, and I try to go all in on everything I do and try to keep hope on when we get to play again,” McIntyre said.
Whenever you talk to any player or coach on the women’s soccer team about anything, you’ll more than likely hear McIntyre’s name mentioned. McIntyre is part of a long line of leaders on the women’s soccer team that includes Aldridge, Tyler Spence, and now McIntyre.
“I’ve been really fortunate in the time that I’ve been here with the leaders I’ve had on my teams and I talk a lot about Tyler Spence and her leadership and you always wonder what’s going to happen, but Shannon really stepped into that role seamlessly,” Coach Jessica Giegucz said.
McIntyre was a key part of the 2019 PSAC championship team and was named to second team All-PSAC West. McIntyre in her first season as a captain took on the role of being the younger captain and learning under Tyler Spence and seeing what she liked about Spence’s leadership. According to Coach Giegucz, their leadership styles are pretty different, but both are just as effective.
“Shannon is just a great person, we always talk to the girls about how you’re not going to remember the times on the field, you’re going to remember the experience. I have great memories of watching her score her first collegiate goal and then she played an entire season with a broken wrist and didn’t complain once, but just the banter and the relationship that we have is amazing,” Coach Giegucz said. “She’s just a wonderful, wonderful kid and our relationship is undoubtedly going to last long after her graduation.”
Because the season is officially canceled, McIntyre may have played her final game for The Rock. McIntyre will graduate this upcoming Spring and then will be going to grad school, and while she could choose Slippery Rock, she would only get one more semester of playing soccer, but would be at Slippery Rock for another two years. McIntyre along with the other seniors (Sofia Harrison, Madison Thierry, and Elise Forry) will make that decision over the course of the next few months, but as of now, it may not be realistic to come back. But McIntyre has made it her goal, whether she returns or not, to keep the team ready and keep them focused on when they can play again.
“One of my goals as a captain has been to keep this team engaged and keep them focused and I’ve told them we’ve made it through the hardest semester. It’s not going to get much harder than what we just did because that is the furthest we’ve ever been away from soccer and every day we make it through is one day closer you are to being on that field again,” McIntyre said.
One of the running jokes throughout the team is that the seniors aren’t going to get their brochure moment, which is when players on the team are featured on the front of gameday brochures. And if there’s one thing about this senior class and McIntyre in general, it’s that they’re not focused on the individual achievements or moments, but more so how they get to share special moments with each other, and McIntyre is the perfect example of that.
“This is so much bigger than me and I wouldn’t have any impact on my own and everything I’ve done, I’ve done with this team. And I hope I got people to see that hard work will get you somewhere and that staying positive and motivated is worth it, but the most important thing on this team is to be bought in and create relationships because that is what you’re going to remember,” McIntyre said.