Life is anAdventure
Published January 21st, 2020
I met Shannon Marr when I moved back to NY the summer of 2018. When I joined the Stony Brook Tides, a team that plays in an over 26 soccer league, I never thought I would once again be apart of team that would later hold some of the most important people in my life. Shannon asked me to train her son Braedon and since then, I've learned so much about her.
Originally from Racine, Wisconsin, Shannon was born on March 17th, 1972. Currently, she lives on Long Island with her husband Greg of 17 years, her two sons, Braedon and Conor, and their dog Lucky. She is a beautiful mother, athlete and friend. I admire how, through all the difficulties in her life, she continues to smile and push through. Between soccer, kickboxing, work, driving her kids around, and being a wife, she is the true personification of "Super Woman" and that is why I chose her to be part of the "Artis Inspo". She inspires me everyday to be a part of new and exciting adventures, to challenge myself, and that you can always find ways to smile, even in times of hardships.
"I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."
-Michael J. Fox
What motivates you to stay strong?
My kids and being a good example for them. I need to stay strong and healthy for them. They don’t need anymore tragedies. I also want them to develop healthy habits for themselves, seeing me still playing and enjoying it, it’s become something that Braedon and I especially connect on. And it’s the one place where I can forget everything, get away from the stress of life and just be. It’s my happy place.
Explain your husbands condition and how did that affect your family?
"We need to start trying to have fun together again. And we’re slowly getting that back..."
Scariest thing of my life; Gregs brain tumors. While Greg was going through surgery my mom was dying from lung cancer. I remember asking her to hold on, just let me get through Greg’s surgery, she died on the day my sister-in-law remarried. I didn’t want to leave her to go to the wedding in Florida, but she wanted me to represent our family, to show my brother’s kids that we were still family. I had one last conversation at breakfast at the Ritz Carlton in Naples, she could hear all her grandkids in the background. That night at three in the morning I got the call she was gone. She didn’t make it for Greg’s surgery. Thank God for my bff, Jennifer DeLawter. I would’ve fallen apart without her. I just pushed through and it was so much on my boys. I had to be strong for them.
His first surgery was in November 2017. Greg had two tumors so he had his second surgery last summer (2018). That one was a more difficult recovery because of its location. He still has residual effects from that surgery. But I was basically a single mom for that time period along with taking care of Greg. He suffered quietly because I really couldn’t focus on him while trying to deal with my mom’s death. He was at her funeral with staples in his head. It was a very rough time, but it made me and the boys closer because they at the time could only count on me for everything and had to let daddy heal. This made me see too that in the end I am the only one I can count on 100%. Life is just that way. I got some support from friends, a lot from my best friend. But in the end at night at home it was all on me. No one to pick me up off the floor, to put one foot in front of the other.
Greg is still in recovery, takes a long time. He may never be who he was before. It’s put a lot of stress on a marriage but we’re fighting through. We need to start trying to have fun together again. And we’re slowly getting that back. It takes a lot of work, patience and understanding which both of us struggle with. It’s hard because I want him to be how he was when we first got married, I am trying to accept that he and I just aren’t those people anymore and trying to figure out what the new normal is.
Who is the biggest influence in your life and why?
My dad, he was the only human being who got me, who understood how to encourage me without pushing me. He knew it had to be my decision not anyone else’s. He taught me how to be an independent woman, to be confident that I could do anything even if it scared the shit out of me. He also knew that if he tried to give me his opinion without me asking for it, I would do just the opposite.
I never wanted to be a conformist, always chose the opposite of everyone else. I embraced being different even if it may have been lonely sometimes. He encouraged me to just be me, no matter what. He taught me that in the end there is really only one person you can always count on, yourself. That may seem sad to say, but his meaning was that we have friends and family that support us, but as life has many obstacles there are just times when no one can be there for you. That’s just life.
Unfortunately, my dad was pretty much on his own most of his life. His mom was sick for most of his childhood and died when he was 17. He ended up getting shipped off to boarding school because his dad couldn’t handle him, he acted out a lot because of his childhood. My grandpa was high up in a publishing company in NY and my dad’s family was in the socialite pages all the time. My dad hated that corporate life and rebelled against it. So this influenced him and who he became and what he taught his children. He wanted me to be a strong independent woman.
Describe your soccer achievements at the club level and college level.
"He wanted me to be a strong independent woman!"
"Down there, women didn't play."
I was never a starter but I played with an incredible bunch of girls. Two played on the National team, a handful on the state team and most of us played at the college level. We were state champions 7 years in a row.
My travel team and High School team were one in the same. Back then we had no women’s program at the high school level. My club team pushed for it and we were the very first varsity team and our first year, state champions! My brother even helped coach. He used to embarrass me. I hated being the center of attention, but because he didn’t know some of the girls names he’d always choose me and my friends to demonstrate drills. I was always terrified I’d screw up with everyone at tryouts watching me.
After high school I left the country. I studied in Argentina. Down there, women didn’t play, it was considered unladylike. In order to play, I had to go to pick up games with boys from school. At first they were afraid they’d hurt me, but when I started scoring on them they got a bit tougher with me.
When I came home, I decided to go to Penn State. After being away in Argentina, I never had any plans to play in college. Back then, Penn State didn’t even have a women’s varsity team. So once I started school, I found out about the club team. I tried out, wasn’t 100% sure I wanted to play, but gave it my best shot. Somehow I made it. I played for a couple years, again wasn’t a starter. My senior year, the University finally started a varsity team program, but it was already too late for me. So, I didn’t try out. But I wrote for my college newspaper and covered their games. I was a journalism major after all, so I still kept soccer a part of my life.
How did you deal with the loss of your father and brother? Did soccer help you?
When my dad died, I was living in Texas. His last trip ever was to come visit me. When he died I felt lost. Kinda lost myself. I became a bit reckless. Didn’t care about myself much. Drank a lot back then. He fought a very progressive liver cancer. He thought he had beat it, told everyone he was in remission, I remember sitting at my desk at Verizon in Texas when he called me to tell me. I knew in my head it wasn’t true, I had had a dream about it. I get weird premonitions when people are going to die. 3 weeks later his cancer was back stronger than ever, shortly after that it had spread to his brain, had a stroke. I flew home, a week in the hospital. My mom and brother left the room. I laid on the bed with him and he took his last breath in my arms. That moment was strangely peaceful. I had whispered in his ear it was ok for him to go, that we’d all be fine.
I moved home after that, didn’t want my mom to be alone. She fell apart and never got it back together. I never really handled my Daddy’s death. I spiraled down hill with my health after that. Greg loved me anyway. He loved my dad too, and my dad loved him. He never saw us get married, I had no flowers on the altar, just one rose just for my dad on my wedding day. I talk about him often now, that’s how I handle it I guess.
John’s death was much harder actually. He died suddenly, still don’t really know why because the autopsy was inconclusive, at least that’s what I was told by my sisters-in-law. I suspect his heart. He was in a very high stress job with a lot of stress to make a certain amount of money. I was very angry at the world after that, don’t believe in God anymore. It’s not God's plan to kill a man with 3 children. It also scared me, my big strong brother who I always saw as invincible, just gone in a split second for no real reason at all. I was very over weight then. Trying to keep up with 2 kids, working and going to school while pregnant, no time to take care of me.
"The pain never
goes away. "
"When he died, the only place that I felt close to him, was on that soccer field..."
So I got surgery to make my stomach smaller, went back to working out, and joined the Tides, I hadn’t played soccer in 16 years. I lost 90 lbs. When my brother died, I knew something was wrong. I was on edge for days, had a panic attack something awful was gonna happen but didn’t know exactly what. One of my premonitions I guess. Then I got the call at work from my mom. Office told me I needed to get to my office to get a call that was an emergency. I collapsed on the floor. My principal had to get me to my car but my friend drove me home. The pain never goes away.
John’s death pissed me off. It was also hard because my mom and I were kinda pushed out of the funeral arrangements. His wife didn’t want us involved. It was probably too hard for her. But no one really got that I had lost my brother and my mother her son, everyone focused on my sister-in-law and how now she was a single mom with 3 kids to raise on her own. So my pain just got swept under the rug.
Still hurts a lot. I don’t really have anyone to talk to about it, not many people would get it. John and I were very close growing up, his marriage changed that. We never got to see him much after that, all their time was spent with her family. So when he died the only place that I feel close to him is on that soccer field. The smell of the grass is comforting to me. I feel him there. I see him smiling at me proud that at my age I can still get my ass out on that field. I also see my dad smiling. He was my first coach even though he at first didn’t know much. He would stay up late researching the sport so he could teach us better. He knew both John and I needed more so when we moved to PA he looked for the best possible club for us to join. Every time I play I see him cheering me on the sidelines. He never missed a game. He scheduled business trips to wherever we might be playing just so he could be there. So soccer helps me feel them, be close to them.