Athlete of the Week: Shannon Towne

Shannon Towne is a second-year graduate student in the Dr. Pallavi Patel College of Health Care Sciences working towards a doctorate in physical therapy. She is a senior pole vaulter on NSU’s Track and Field team. 


What got you into pole vaulting and into the sport of track and field?

“I was a gymnast all my life. I started doing gymnastics [when] I was 18 months old and [continued] all the way up into the end of high school. One of my friends from gymnastics got hurt and couldn’t do it anymore, so she asked me if I wanted to [try] pole vaulting [with her] and I said sure and we both ended up doing it through college.” 


How has your experience been at NSU?

“I love NSU. I’m from Missouri so the warmth is nice. The team is very supportive. It’s a fun place to be for sure. I’ve lived [in South Florida] for five years now, so I don’t miss home as much as I used to. I’m married and I have set down roots of my own life [while here at NSU].”


What would you say makes track and field unique from other sports?

“I would say that it’s individual, but it’s also a team-effort based sport. It’s not really like basketball or volleyball where it is a collective effort. We are all held accountable as  individuals because we all do our own events. It’s different [than other sports] because we all have to support each other even though we don’t have the [opportunity] to rely on each other [in our events]. Obviously I’m not going to be able to run a 5k or do steeple-chase, and none of [my teammates of other events] could probably pole vault. It’s different because you learn to support people in sports [that you might not] know anything about. It’s a different dynamic.”


How was it to adjust to the NSU dynamic coming from a different school?

“I wasn’t on the track team my freshman year of college. I took a year off athletics from my graduation of high school and into college. It was hard because I went from 40 hours of gymnastics and pole vault and all the clubs you can imagine. I was a very busy person who worked two jobs so to go to college and have one job and college to focus on was a challenge for me. It’s almost like I function better when I’m busy. It was different, but it was nice to go back to athletics because it felt weird [to have so much free time].”


How would you describe your athletic career now that you are near the end of that part of your life?

“It’s bittersweet, but I’m 24 now so I’m ready to be done. It’s been a long haul. I’m ready to move on and focus on grad school, start a family and focus on my future career and live my life. I’m excited to be done, but once I’m [done], I probably won’t know what to do with myself. My husband is also a pole vaulter at NSU so it’s something that we do together and it’s going to be weird to not have that to do together, but I’m looking forward to [the change].”


What do you do in your free time?

“I’m an avid Bachelor fan. My husband and I both free dive and love to spearfish. Anything in the ocean is great and I really like to draw. Anything outdoors is really [my comfort zone,] you know, living the life, hanging in the hammock or playing with my dog.”


What are your plans for the future?

“I want to finish grad school. I’ve got a little while left. We go on a medical mission trip in my program every year to Puerto Rico, so I’m really looking forward to that. 


What has pole vaulting taught you that you carry with you in your daily life?

“Pole vaulting has taught me that 99% of the things that you are afraid of are irrational and just in your head. I’ve been pole vaulting for 11 years now and it’s very much a mental game. It’s all in your head that ‘the wind’s blowing too much today’ or ‘the runway is a little bit wet.’ Everything that we stress about in life is just stuff that we make up in our head and if you could get over that, then you can really face any problem in your life.”

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