CHICAGO – During halftime of the first-annual #SheInspiresMe game on July 14, Shannon Smyth was honored with the inaugural award.
The 2018 #SheInspiresMe Award is an award given by the Chicago Red Stars to women in the community who inspire young girls around them to be the best they can be. Smyth was nominated by Mahleah Calderon and her daughter, who is coached by Smyth.
“[Smyth] is an exceptional female role model,” Calderon said in an email to the Red Stars. “She role models a strong, healthy athlete and a positive, healthy community member. She not only cares about highly competitive girls’ soccer development but also their overall development as a strong woman. She infuses her incredible soccer knowledge with life lessons and skills.”
Smyth attended the University of Louisville, where she was a four-year letter winner while earning degrees in Sports Administration and Communications. She also led the team to its first Big East Semi-Final appearance and helped secure the team its first NCAA Championship berth.
After college, she was in Norway playing for one season at FK Donn and four seasons at Amazon Grimstad FK. While playing for Amazon, she noticed there was no youth girls’ soccer program, so she started one.
“Each year [the camp] got better,” Shannon Smyth said. “It was a girls-only camp and my teammates and [me], we coached. I only allowed girl leaders.”
Focusing on teaching basics, the camp grew from 18 girls to 31 in the first three years. They were also able to start a mini kickers program for younger children to introduce them to the game. Smyth aided to their reserves program getting stronger, eventually developing Under-12, Under-14 and Under-16 teams.
“We rewrote the handbook for the club; we created a curriculum, we stuck to it,” Smyth said. “It was quite successful and continued to grow, and it was great to be a part of it.”
Smyth also appeared in 35 matches for the Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team during five years, including the World University Games, World Cup Qualifiers, and European Championship Qualifiers.
Now, along with coaching at North Shore United Soccer Club, Smyth also coaches with TOP Soccer, a soccer program for kids with special needs.
“[The award] is really a great nod toward our teachers and coaches and I am totally honored to even be nominated and awarded this specific one. It makes me feel good and it inspires me to keep doing what I do and that I am making an impact on young women and men. I think it is a fantastic initiative and I think it gives a chance to give more of that positive feedback to our teachers and coaches.” I don’t have one quite like it. There are different achievements along my career, but this one is certainly unique.”
The Red Stars take on Sky Blue FC for Salute to Service Night on Saturday, July 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast live on the NWSL app and the go90 app. Tickets are available here.