‘It’s the best of times’: Ex-field hockey player returns to VCU

VCU assistant coach Shannon Pereira huddles around the team. Photo courtesy of VCU Athletics

Arrick Wilson, sports editor

VCU assistant coach Shannon Pereira played her senior black and gold season after three years at Saint Francis University.

After a professional field hockey and coaching career, Pereira is back with the Rams.

“I absolutely loved my time at VCU. And just to be back, especially with the coaching staff that I know, is just awesome,” Pereira said. script.”

VCU head coach Stacey Bean coached Pereira at Saint Francis University, where Pereira earned 10 All-Atlantic honors over the three seasons, according to SFU Athletics. When Bean took the job at VCU in 2017, Pereira followed her after her senior year in 2018.

Since then, Bean has led VCU to the highest winning percentage of any coach in program history, while also winning an Atlantic 10 Championship in 2020, according to VCU Athletics.

Bean has gone from training Pereira in the past to now training with her. Pereira brings an athletic mindset and mentality to the Rams, Bean said.

“Shannon [Pereira] is one of my five favorites of all time, so having her back is amazing,” Bean said. “She was a very, very good player, but as good as she is, and as a player at her peak, she’s 10 times the person.”

Pereira took on the Rams graduate assistant role in 2019, following her first season with the Rams, according to VCU Athletics. Pereira has coached and played with current VCU graduate students Litiana Field, Janne Wetzel, Mackenzie Williams and Lynea Gregory.

Field said having Pereira was great for older grad students because she had a connection to the players.

“Everyone respects her as a coach, doesn’t see her as…nothing less than a coach or anything,” Field said. “She supported me a lot. We love that she comes back.

The league’s head coaches voted Field and Wetzel to the A-10 preseason first team, according to the A-10 website. Pereira said Field, Wetzel and other graduate students will bring experience as the season approaches.

“I just know we’ve seen the league game before and we like what to expect,” Pereira said. “They definitely bring maturity, strength and just know what to expect.”

After leaving VCU as a graduate assistant in 2019, Pereira’s return to VCU began. Pereira said her intentions to play abroad were cut short due to COVID-19, but she finally found a team to play with in the Netherlands.

“I knew I wanted to be back in the States, so finding DeSales [University] and be GA [graduate assistant] there, I think it was a great opportunity for me, just to be a coach again,” said Pereira.

Pereira said she plans to share the experiences that shaped her career by guiding players and helping them along the way.

“I think the most important thing for me is just to empower them [players] make the right choices and just be there as support,” Pereira said.

The Rams are looking to return to the A-10 Championship, having lost the title game last season. VCU has played the last two straight games in the A-10 Championship, winning one in 2020, according to VCU Athletics.

Head coach Stacey Bean said last year’s loss shaped the black-and-gold, adding motivation for the Rams.

“It was not easy to reach the final. We have a lot of parity in the conference. So, you know, it’s not just St. Joe’s,” Bean said. “It’s fuel for the fire for a competitor, every time you lose their fuel for the fire.”

The goal and expectation for the Rams is a championship. Pereira believes the Rams can rise to the challenge and return to the A-10 Championship game this season.

“I think they know what it takes to be a champion team,” Pereira said. “The ball is in their court and it’s their season. And I think they have what it takes.

Catherine J. Martinez