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An Afternoon with Shannon: Part 2

The second most recognizable face on the Kansas sideline? <img src="http://media.theinsiders.com/media/site_logo/premium.gif">

Bill Cross talks with student manager Shannon O'Connor. This is part two of the interview. Photos by Amy Cox.

BC: You are arguably the second most recognizable face on the Kansas sideline, next to Coach Williams. Have you ever thought about this? What are your feelings about it?

SO: I beg to differ! Obviously, people e-mail me about what's on Phog.net, or they call me, or whatever. This week, I have four interviews lined up and four radio shows. All this attention is coming about. It doesn't really affect me. I don't think, "Ohh, I'm Shannon O'Connor, the basketball manager!" It's just kind of a daily thing. It doesn't affect me at all, but I definitely don't think that I'm the second most recognized face on the KU bench. I'm not sitting there during the games thinking, "Ohh, I wonder if the TV is on me right now!" I have no idea, so it's just totally random. I go there to do my job. I'm seriously like a player in my focus in the game. I'm into every play, and I'm thinking about it. I'm worried about the timeouts, and if coach is going to want his wiper to clean his glass, and who's gonna want water, and I need to watch out who needs Gatorade. I'm so focused on the game that I don't really notice.

BC: Have you ever considered a career in coaching?

SO: No.

BC: What are your ACTUAL aspirations?

SO: There are so many things I want to do with my life. I'm majoring in communications and Spanish. I thought about doing broadcast news. The only thing I'd do in sports would probably be sports broadcasting, but the only sports I'd want to cover would be college basketball, or maybe even NBA basketball. That's the only sport that I'm really interested in so it probably wouldn't work out well. I think I'm really good at selling things. I'm really good at talking to people and making them feel comfortable. I think I'd like to do something in sales and marketing. We just got back from Oregon. We went to the Nike Campus, and I decided, "Yes, I'm going to live in Oregon. I'm going to live in Portland, and I'm going work at Nike, because this place is great." So my new career goal is to do marketing for Nike.

BC: If you're modeling career goes anywhere, would you go with it?

SO: It's kind of weird. I always think that it's over, then something else comes about. I started doing this stuff when I was fifteen. After each thing I do, I'm like "okay, that was fun." I think it would be fun. I love being in front of the camera because it's like being a whole new person. You get to show so many attitudes. I just think photography is a really cool art. I like being part of that art, so I would like to continue doing things, but I also have so many other things going on in my life. I've already done some modeling. There's so many other opportunities that I'd like to open.

BC: Where can people get the Girls of KU Calendar and see you as Miss January?

SO: Without KUSports.com there would be no calendar. They are great.

(Find out more at )Women of KU at KUsports.com. See Shannon as Miss January

BC: What classes are you taking in addition to your managing and modeling?

SO: Let's see. We'll start with the ones I hate. These are ones that I recommend to Phog Net users NOT to take. I'm in a religion class, and an atmospheric science class, a communications class, an English class, and a women's studies class. I'm basically done, so from here on out I'll be taking only Spanish and Communications. And that really nasty Western Civ(ilization).

BC: Have you ever seen Keith Langford naked? I'm…uh...I'm just asking for a friend.

SO: A friend! Is it a guy or a girl?

BC: I…uh. I dunno.

SO: No.

BC: In all seriousness, what is your relationship like with the players outside of practice?

SO: It's really no different than with any of my other guy friends, except I wouldn't just pick up the phone and call them and say, "Hey! Let's go out tonight." There's just an understanding when you're a manager and they're a player. If I'm out, I'll talk with them and hang out or whatever. I would never call them and say, "Let's go to a movie" or "Let's go to dinner" or anything like that because it just doesn't work like that. They're all really cool to me. They all give me a hard time about a lot of things like my passing ability, and my rebound ability, and the way I run, and the way I do this, and the way I do that, and the shoes I wear. It's just amazing the things that they say. I think that just shows that we do have a friendship level because we can joke about things like that.

BC: To play for Roy Williams, all of the players must naturally put forth their best effort. But who, in your estimation, is the hardest working player in practice that you've practiced with in the last two years?

SO: Kirk Hinrich, hands down. He's the most focused, self-motivated player I think I've ever seen. I love watching him play. All the players are amazing, but just his attitude and the efforts he puts forth are just amazing to me.

BC: Do you feel that the same effort is demanded from the managers?

SO: Yeah, actually. We obviously don't perform to the caliber that Kirk does. Like I was telling you about the process, they seriously look to see how hard you work, and if you're willing to do dirty work, and not get credit for things. It's kind of crazy, but we all have to be where we need to be, and if we're not there, somebody's yelling.

BC: The basketball players have prioritized scheduling so they can be at practice every day. Do you get the same thing?

SO: No, we do not get priority enrollment. We do not get to enroll ahead of time. We do not get tutors. We do not get help with any of that stuff. We don't get free books. We don't get any sort of scholarship. I understand not getting a scholarship or books or anything. But as managers we have to plan our schedule around practice exactly like the players do, but we don't get the benefits of priority enrollment, so we just have to work around it. This program has been running the exact same way ever since Coach Williams got here, including our managerial program. I came in last year and I'm like, "Yeah, I have a great idea. This right here, it's working great and it has for the last fifteen years -- but I think it'd work better if we did this." Some of the things they go with. Some they don't, just because they're like "This is the way it always has been, this is the way it always will be." So they always laugh at me, because they think, "Ohhh gosh, what's coming up next?"


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