Shannon Antunez... She Plays Hard!

Shannon Antunez... She Plays Hard!

"We Play Hard". A phrase that any VC fan is very familiar with. I have been following VC women's basketball for over ten years now, the last eight as Team Photographer. I have seen many, many players play hard, and any female athlete who wishes to play for Head Coach Ned Mircetic must do so on a regular basis in order to earn and maintain a spot on the VC roster. At VC, "We Play Hard" is not just a whimsical catch phrase. Citing a paragraph from a letter I wrote after the 1999-2000 season :

"The team motto says it all - "We Play Hard". Indeed, whichever five young ladies were on the court at any particular time played their hearts out, through sprains and bumps and bruises. No matter what the score was, a Pirate player could be seen diving for a loose ball or crashing into the bleachers after saving a ball from going out of bounds."

Of all of the players that I have personally seen dribble a basketball wearing a Pirate uniform, one player in particular exemplifies the We Play Hard mantra like none I've ever seen. The young woman wearing jersey number 23 this season and last... Shannon Antunez. This page is a tribute to Shannon, for providing us fans with exciting and entertaining play whenever she's on the court. I have included every individual action photo that I have taken of her for the past two seasons.

Shannon... for all you do, this page is for you!

2003-2004 Season

An excerpt from my personal weblog...

Monday, December 13, 2004

# 23

The holiday season is here and basketball season is in full swing. The number 23 is synonymous with basketball greatness, but for the past two seasons, I have had the pleasure of witnessing first hand a basketball player wearing jersey # 23 play the game like no one else I've ever seen. She's a female junior college player at a local school. She's not 6'6". She'll never perform an acrobatic monster slam dunk. She'll never make millions of dollars playing the game she loves. She may never have her own line of athletic shoe, or endorse a popular brand of underwear.

But she can play! It's not so much the athleticism, rather it's the effort that she puts forth when she's "between the lines". She plays her heart out, hustling, giving 100%, diving for loose balls, sacrificing her body... the list goes on and on. So many times I've seen her hit the floor after taking a charge, then pop right back up even though she's writhing in pain. Other times, she hasn't popped back up so fast, but it's very difficult to keep her out of the game. Give her a short breather and she'll be asking to go back into the game to help her teammates bring home a victory.

Plus, she's a great person off the court to boot! Always quick to give a smile, or offer a compliment. Ah, the little things in life... never underestimate the power of a smile.

Sure it's fun to drive the city to a 20,000 seat arena, plunk down $75 for a seat, and watch a professional basketball game (from a distance) with world class millionaire athletes merely reaching up and stuffing the ball through the hoop. But I would much rather visit my local junior college gymnasium and watch young student-athletes such as her do her thing. That's fun. That's exciting. That's young players playing the game the way it should be played. No whining about money. No fights with fans. Just good plain fun.

When I think of jersey number 23, she'll always be the first athlete that comes to mind. But that's just me...

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