On the same day Mandy Shannon and her mother, Carol Klein, learned they had been hired to coach the Timberline High varsity volleyball team, Shannon received another piece of life-changing information.
She was pregnant with her first child.
The joyful news is now creating a bit of a problem for the Wolves, who are undefeated in the 5A Southern Idaho Conference and appear to be on track for a state playoff berth in late October — right around the same time Shannon is due.
“She is due the week between districts and state,” Klein said. “I’ve given her about a four-day window that she can have the baby.”
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Well before the mother-daughter coaching duo began to think about the possibility of state, they had to revive a Timberline team that went 6-11 last season and finished eighth in the 12-team conference.
Neither had been a varsity coach before, so the learning process began as soon as they were hired in April.
Their first few weeks were overwhelming.
“There were probably about 80 girls between the junior high and the high school level that wanted to be a part of the program,” Klein said. “I knew none of them, because I had been out of the program long enough that I wasn’t familiar with any of them. It was all new. I did not know a single person.”
Klein had previously served as a junior varsity coach at Timberline, but she never wanted the responsibility of a varsity job.
“I really did not ever want to go beyond (junior varsity),” Klein said. “I work full-time. My husband is quadriplegic, so I am his 24-7 caregiver. I just really didn’t feel like I wanted to take on a full-time situation.”
But Timberline Athletic Director Tol Gropp found a way to convince Klein to take over the varsity program.
“He knows my situation. He knows the whole thing,” Klein said. “I kind of jokingly said to him I would only do it if I could talk Mandy into coaching with me. And then she did.”
Shannon (whose maiden name is Klein) is a 2005 graduate of Timberline High and a former Gatorade Idaho Volleyball Player of the Year who went on to be a four-year starting setter at Boise State. She also led the Timberline softball team to a state title in 2005 as a pitcher.
“If you would have asked me in high school if I would have done this, I probably would have said ‘No way,’” Shannon said. “But I also work for my parents (at State Farm Insurance), so just in the last five or six years we’ve learned to work really well together. ... So I kind of figured going into this that it would be a similar situation.”
While Shannon had a scholarship offer at UNLV for volleyball, she chose to stay close to home after her dad, Randy, became quadriplegic following a boogie-boarding accident in Hawaii in 2003.
“I was 16 when he was in his accident. It was the spring of my sophomore year,” Shannon said. “Junior year was a little bit of an adjustment period, but by the time I got to my senior year I really knew I wanted to be around. It made a big difference in terms of what my decision was.
“I always thought I wanted to leave home. I thought I wanted to go far away or go somewhere glamorous for college, but it didn’t really seem to fit. Boise State just seemed to be the best option.”
Shannon says the challenges the family faced after her father’s accident have put the everyday challenges of coaching in perspective.
“I think that’s the biggest thing is the perspective that you come away with. Both my mom and I look at volleyball as kind of an outlet,” Shannon said. “I always sort of have looked at sports that way. It’s a time where I can come and forget about everything else and just have fun. That’s what we’ve also tried to convey to the girls.”
That’s not to say that mother and daughter aren’t taking their coaching duties seriously.
Should Shannon’s baby arrive before state, she has tentative plans in place to bring newborn Owen Everett Shannon — who is due Oct. 24 — to the state tournament Oct. 30-31 at Coeur d’Alene High with the help of her husband and in-laws.
“We didn’t really sign up for this to be a short-term thing,” Shannon said. “So we’re planning on being here and seeing where it takes us.”