While the last chance to step on a soccer field for most seniors was Dec. 1, 2007, Shannon Aitken will continue to be a part of the women’s soccer program through next year.
Aitken, a two-time NSCAA All-American goalie and winner of the National Soccer Player of the Year award, will be a graduate assistant coach for the 2008-09 season. Aitken was also nominated for an even more distinct honor, the NCAA DII Athlete of the Year award.
“I am really excited to still be a part of the program. I don’t think I could be here and not do something associated with soccer,” Aitken said.
The Allied Health major will join the coaching staff while she finishes up school, planning to graduate in May of 2009.
“I’m excited to get to be on the other end of the program. I finally won’t have the pressures of passing the fitness tests on my shoulders anymore,” Aitken said.
She will be working along side the present goalie coach, Kai Velmer, to prepare the incoming freshmen goalkeepers to follow in the rather large footsteps she has left through her four years as UT’s starting goalkeeper.
“I’m really excited to be working with Shannon next year because she’s such an amazing keeper. She has so much experience and I know I’ll learn a lot from her,” said Caitlin Fox, one of the three incoming goalkeepers.
Aitken has applied for the NCAA Degree-Completion Award that, if chosen, will pay for her to finish out school while coaching. Players who qualify for this honor must have exhausted their playing eligibility of four years without staying at the school for more than 10 semesters.
Shelby Kuni is a member of the women’s soccer team.
[Modified on April 24, 2008 at 3:40 p.m. to correct an error. The National Championship was not on Dec. 1, 2008, it was 2007. We regret the error]