My name is Shannon Morton and I am from Chesapeake, Virginia. I was a member of the Women’s Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor track team where I graduated in 2016. My time at Virginia Tech was nothing short of amazing. Freshman year I came to Virginia Tech to most importantly earn a degree from an elite academic institution while also working to become one of the nation’s top middle distance runners. With the help from my coaches, professors, teammates, and the countless other resources here at Tech, I was able to accomplish both. Coach Thomas really did a heck of a job helping me transition from a high school to college in terms of competing. Not only does he help us become the fastest runner’s in the country, but he really does an exceptional job teaching us discipline outside of practice. What we do outside of practice determines the type of athlete we will be. That right there is what I believe differentiates us from other D1 programs.
During my five years here, I’ve had much success. Between breaking school records, making nationals, winning awards at the Gobblers, and being an All-American twice, I believe that the coaches really helped me become a top competitor in the NCAA. One of my most memorable moments was the weekend of the 2016 Indoor ACC Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Friday I ran the prelims for the mile with a time of 4:44.00. I believed this was a good enough score to qualify for finals. On Saturday, I was short of winning my first ACC title with a time of 4:36. That time would have been second in the ACC’s and top 16 in the Nation. I ended up being disqualified for no apparent reason and because of that, it striped my chances of competing for a national title. That weekend was the last weekend to try and qualify for USA’s and NCAA’s. I do not wish that feeling on any athlete or coach. The emotions from everyone were so deep that even thinking of it now gives me goosebumps.
While all of this was going on, we learned that on Sunday was a “Last Chance” meet 20 minutes away from where we were staying in Boston. That night Coach Thomas called me down to the lobby where he said he did not think running tomorrow would be smart but would support whatever decision I made. Only because I ran my heart out the past two days and he did not want the chances of me running poorly on day three to affect my mentality leading into the Outdoor season. There was no way I was going to end my senior season with that result. I was going to run. We agreed and the next day I was toeing the line for my third race in just three days. Around 600m to go I just remember thinking about how stupid this decision was because my body was definitely feeling those races. However, I was still holding onto the leading pack of all Professional runners. Next thing I know I crossed the line and looked at the clock to see 4:35.76! I just ran faster than my last two races! All I could do was scream and find Coach Thomas to give him a hug. That time placed me 6th in the Nation and gave me another opportunity to compete for the National Title along with 15 other women. That entire weekend’s emotions were all over to say the least haha. It really showed the strength and passion in me. Because the thought of not racing never crossed my mind even though the thoughts of not racing well did. One thing that I learned from that weekend was simply to never doubt the type of athlete you are and to never lose your faith! God was definitely present on day three that is for sure.
Every athlete experiences some sort of adversity during his or her career. Mine just so happened to be because of my injuries. After my Indoor season in 2016 my coaches and I decided to keep me a 5th year which meant I would be redshirting that outdoor season. During that outdoor season I experienced an injury that eventually lead me to sit out my entire season in 2017. My left foot began going numb, luckily with the redshirt I had the time to actually take care of it. However, during Cross Country that fall it started again along with my hands going numb now. Unfortunately, this injury did not go away and I ended up calling my entire year during Outdoors in 2017.
For about 5 months after making the decision of ending my season, I was so lost! I lost my passion in the sport and even found myself losing my faith in general. Every single time someone mentioned running to me I would just get furious for some reason. However, a few months ago I realized that I am the one in control of what my future holds. I could continue being upset with myself and having my family hurt in my decision or I could simply attempt to give this dream of mine one more attempt. I began writing in my prayer journal, working out again, oh, and PAIN FREE! God must have heard my cries each night because last month he presented myself with an opportunity to sign with G6 Sports & Entertainment agency and to relocate to Arizona to begin training for the 2020 Olympic Trails. I will be trained, marketed, and managed free of charge with the help of an Olympic Gold Medalist, Sherri Howard. This is an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down because honestly it takes someone special to see the potential in any athlete after being away from competition and real training for a year. Because this all has happened so fast we have created a GoFundMe to get this dream of mine started. We want to raise money to help with the living arrangements so that way the first few months my mind can be completely focused on training. During this entire process, I have realized that this journey, along with the tremendous highs and deep lows have all been a part of God’s plan. I really think I needed this year away to rediscover my passion for this sport. I can’t wait to get this ball rolling and bring Hokie Nation along with me!
Click here for a link to my GoFundMe