Quiet Strength

Every year, respective college institutions experience attrition. Different players come and go for various reasons, maybe for different pursuits or the typical process of graduation.

More often than not, the remembrances of the student athletes who step through the archways of our beloved university are barely remembered.

Unless, of course, you're Shawn Goff.

"I don't know if you can put a value on someone like Shawn Goff," said head coach Renee Ladner. "She's going to do anything you ask at anytime and always wants to do good.

"Shawn means a great deal to this team."

For those who know her personally, Shawn isn't considered the most outgoing of people. Shy and reserved are adjectives often used to describe the lone senior on the Lady Rebel roster, despite her loud persona on the floor.

"Usually, I simply blend in," Goff said. "I don't like to be talked about too much, but I understand it's good talk. That means I'm doing my job. But I've had to get used to it over the years."

Rather, she focuses on hard work and integrity to get by, using encouragement and selective use of words to lead her ladies to their desired destination – postseason play.

"(Being vocal) is kind of hard," she said. "I'm too nice of a person at times. I just can't scream. I try to casually talk to everybody, but it's a big challenge. I know the coaches expect me to be more vocal and I'm trying everyday, but that's one thing I need to improve on."

But it's a role she's grown more accustomed in the season's latter stages.

The Lady Rebels have continued to make strides in 2009, with an emphasis placed on a controlled offense and stingy defense.

With the team improving, Shawn has become an extension of her head coach on the floor.

"We're becoming a more disciplined team" she said. "Early on in the year, we had problems with running our offense and being disciplined within it. We've also had to work on our defense. But we've listened to our coaches and are working with each other to get through the rough patches.

"We're just focused on postseason play. How far we go will all depend on how hard we play."

If ever in search of how a leader should walk or talk, one should look no further. In this day-and-age, it's hard to find athletes that care more for those around them than themselves.

Egos shadow almost every team, but fans should count Goff as an exception.

"Sometimes, she's too unselfish," Ladner explained. "She'll give up a shot anytime for someone else. We want her to shoot 20 times a game and she wants someone else to shoot. That's who she is.

"We missed her the first three games of the season. Our kids played for Shawn. You don't need to say anything else. If your team will play for someone else, that means you're loved, cared for and needed."

Goff averages over just under 14 points and six rebounds on the year, while leading the team in minutes per game with over 29.

Easily the most decorated Rebel the ladies have to offer, she was selected All-SEC Second Team by both the league's coaches and the Associated Press as a junior.

She's experienced incredible highs and disappointing lows throughout her career, from an Elite Eight appearance in 2007 to a 13-16 campaign in 2008.

"I've had a good four years," said Goff. "We made it to the Elite Eight, which I would have never imagined. I'll remember all the big games we won, the tournaments, just everything. I've had fun throughout this experience. All the awards were surprising, but it's all made an impact on me."

Through it all, Goff has always maintained her calm demeanor. She continually strives for excellence, living her life one day at a time despite the knowledge that her Ole Miss career will soon be over.

"It hasn't hit me yet," she said of her final year as a Lady Rebel. "I'm taking it day-by-day. Towards the end of the year, it'll probably hit me harder – especially when I'm the only senior on Senior Night. But it hasn't hit me yet, which is probably a good thing. I'm just going to keep playing hard."

For most, the type of success Goff has amassed over the years would be more than enough to raise their head higher than one's counterparts.

Staying humble might seem difficult when you set the single-season record for blocked shots (87) as a junior.

But as we've established, Shawn isn't that kind of person.

"Shawn Goff is an incredible young woman," Ladner said. "She's a player that's gotten better every year. We put a lot of pressure on her last year, asking her to be our leading rebounder and scorer. She draws a lot of attention, which helps us on the offense end. She opens things up for other shooters. She means so much to our team."

However, according to Ladner, this won't be the last time we hear from Shawn.

"She'll be sorely missed, but has a lot of good basketball left in her," said Ladner. "She's been productive on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. She can block shots and run the floor like a guard. Her intangibles alone mean so much.

"She's one of those players coaches never want to let go."

Fans either.

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