Shannon O'Brien enters her third season with the Black Knight cross country program in 2014. O'Brien, who also helps guide Army's distance contingent during track season, came to West Point from Florida State, where she served two years as the meet director and graduate manager for the women's track and field and cross country programs.
2013 was a successful campaign for O'Brien and her cadet-athletes, as she helped lead the men's cross country team to its first Star meet victory over Navy since 2008. The women's outdoor track and field team also claimed a victory over Navy, ending Army's 11-meet losing streak, including indoor competition, against the Midshipmen.
O'Brien coached Kendall Ward, the 2014 Cross Country Patriot League Scholar Athlete of the Year. Ward was selected to the Capital One Academic All-District first team and set a top ten indoor track mark in the 5K. In addition to Ward on the men's side, Ricardo Galindo became a two-time cross country Star meet winner and two-time track and field 5K Star meet champion while under O'Brien's advisory.
Army's women were also successful during the 2013 season under O'Brien with Lindsay Gabow adding her name to the Black Knights' all-time records list three times, including third all-time in the indoor 5K and fourth in the outdoor 5K and 10K. She was also the winner of the Star meet in the track and field 5K. In addition to Gabow, Madison Hill saw success in 2013, with three all-time list additions, setting a fourth place mark in the 5K indoor, ninth in the 5K and 10th in the 10K.
During her first season with the Army cross country program in 2012, the Black Knight men earned their best point total at the Patriot League Championships since 2008, while the women scored their best mark since 2005. Also at the conference meet, Lisa Junta earned Army's best individual finish since 1998, running to a third-place finish to garner first-team all-league honors.
The Black Knights collected five All-Patriot League certificates, their highest total since 2008. Success continued into the NCAA East Regional meet, where Junta earned the best individual finish in women's program history and Ricardo Galindo recorded the men's highest individual mark since 2008.
Army also succeeded in the classroom as Junta, Galindo and Kendall Ward were voted to the Academic All-Patriot League team before both the men's and women's squads earned Division I All-Academic recognition by the USTFCCCA.
At FSU, O'Brien was responsible for designing a training regiment for walk-on athletes as well as conducting daily practices for that contingent. With her guidance, four student-athletes were offered scholarships to run for the perennial national contender program.
Working alongside FSU head coach Karen Harvey, the women's cross country team placed second at the NCAAs in 2010 and fourth in 2011, while the track team's distance unit enjoyed similar success on the regional and national stage.
Prior to her two-year stint with the Seminoles, O'Brien was an assistant coach/coaching intern at Dartmouth College with the Big Green's track and cross country teams. O'Brien got her first taste of recruiting while in Hanover, N.H., as she worked on arranging official visits and contacted potential student-athletes.
O'Brien also spent her undergraduate years in New Hampshire, receiving a bachelor's degree in English from Keene State College in 2005. The middle-distance specialist was an All-American for the Owls in the 800 meters, and still maintains her hold on school records in the 500 meters, 400-meter hurdles and 4x400-meter relay.
Following her graduation, she worked at her alma mater as an assistant coach through the summer of 2006.
O'Brien, who received her master's degree in sport management from Florida State in 2012, has a USATF Level 1 Certification and Level 2 Certification in endurance events. She has worked for running camps across the country, including Vermont and Oregon.