When Colin Shadowens turned 3 years old, his father deployed to Iraq. Shadowens remembers gazing at his birthday cake, which was decorated with tanks.
“I knew I wanted to serve my country no matter what,” Shadowens said.
Shadowens is poised to fulfill his dream. He is committed to play lacrosse at the U.S. Naval Academy.
A three-sport athlete, Shadowens has played sports since age 5. Growing up with two older brothers and later a younger brother, he often had opportunities to play against older athletes.
“I love to compete,” he said. “Most of my life, I was the youngest. It taught me to have that underdog mentality. That’s what I love about sports. You can be humiliated at some time, but you can also shock the world.”
Whether he is playing lacrosse, football or wrestling, he demands the most of himself.
“He is our faceoff guy and team captain — total grinder,” said head boys lacrosse coach Travis Loving, adding that Shadowens “does the right thing when no one is looking.”
The All-County faceoff specialist said doing the right thing often means leading by example. He follows his parents’ mantra: always do what is expected of you.
“At points, I may not be the most vocal, but I take pride in doing the right thing and having a high discipline and moral standard,” Shadowens said. “I set an example for teammates and younger guys on how they should behave.”
Varsity football head coach Mike Wright explained how Shadowens led by example with a “refuse to lose attitude” that was infectious.
“His work effort and production were always beyond expectation, and he was a great teammate by never taking his position and status for granted, constantly earning it, encouraging others to step up, working with them on their skills so the entire team could be better,” Wright said. “The type of player a coach wishes he had a whole team of.”
Shadowens is equally respected by coaches and teammates. Senior midfielder Kurt Klaus called Shadowens “one of the best athletes that I have ever played alongside.”
“There hasn't been a single practice that he doesn't go to the side and just does faceoffs over and over and over again,” Klaus said. “His determination to always be getting better inspires me and others on the team to improve as well. He also works with the other FOGOs on both JV and varsity, I presume passing down all the things he has learned and helping them to be great as well.”
Each sport has provided Shadowens with an opportunity to learn.
“Wrestling taught me humiliation because I was never good enough to win state championships,” he said. “Football taught me that size doesn’t matter; you can make an impact on the field. The faceoff [in lacrosse] is a one-on-one battle, so if I do my role, I know I’m going to succeed.”
While many athletes attend clinics and camps, Shadowens said most of his skills were self-taught.
“I analyze film of college players and look at their techniques,” he said. “It sharpens my muscle memory.”
Shadowens has volunteered his time to younger athletes through Mesa Lacrosse.
“I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said. “It’s awesome watching these kids build their technique and become better athletes.”
He still wants to play football and wrestle, but “lacrosse is the way to the academy right now,” he said. He won’t allow his focus to wane from the dream formed by his 5-year-old self.
“I learned about the prestigious culture of the Naval Academy, becoming an officer and being a leader in the U.S. military,” he said, explaining why he chose the Navy. “I want to thank my family and my coaches: lacrosse coach Earl for giving me a chance my freshman year. Coach Loving for stepping up and being great. Coach Bryden. Coach Wright has been the most loving coach I’ve ever had.”
In partnership with The Matt Wyble Team of Century 21, the Voice’s Student-Athlete of the Month series recognizes the many student-athletes in our area who make an impact not necessarily by way of statistics or stardom, but by their unique contributions. Contact Zach Sparks at email@example.com to nominate a young person in our community making a positive impact through sports.