At 22, Shannon Smith is an icon in women's lacrosse, respected throughout the country for the skills and leadership she displayed in helping Northwestern capture three national titles in her four seasons with the team.
She graduated less than two months ago, but Hofstra thinks she will be a rising star in the coaching profession and Tuesday filled its own Division I vacancy by naming the native of West Babylon its new head coach.
Smith had enrolled at Hofstra for graduate school when the job became available this summer.
"There was a job opening here, I went after it," she said. "I was determined, very confident in my ability to be able to perform here and after talking to the staff and the team, they showed the same interest that I did. I knew it was a great fit right off the bat. I'm ready to get after it. I am extremely excited about the opportunity that Hofstra has presented me here. They have a great support system; it's a great team and I'm looking to bring it to the next level and welcome in a championship culture here."
Smith impressed the athletic administration, particularly athletic director Jeff Hathaway, who made Smith his first hire since his arrival in June.
"After we went through the entire process we felt Shannon had so much to offer," he said. "Whether it was at Hofstra this year or another major university next year, she was going to be a head coach very soon. We did our due diligence and I talked to a lot of college administrators, a number of coaches, people in the lacrosse world. Everybody consistently talked about how special and unique of an individual Shannon was. Her competitiveness, her leadership, her ability to communicate and to make those around her better."
Since 2009, Smith has been the director of her family-owned Long Island Top Guns girls lacrosse club. The under-15 group finished third nationally this year. Smith organized and coached a training program for over 300 players.
Smith was a three-time first-team All-American at Northwestern and in 2011 won the Tewaaraton Award as the top women's player in the country. She was on the varsity at West Babylon High School starting in seventh grade and holds state records for total points (729) and goals (505).
Senior Maryann Miller, also 22, is looking forward to playing for Smith.
"I know all of her credentials, just everything she has earned. I'm very amazed," she said. "I'm so thankful that I have a chance to work under a coach of her caliber."