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Ridgeway native Shannon Allen last week began her first season as head coach of the volleyball program at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wis.

The daughter of Earl Allen and Kathy Allen, she started playing volleyball in the Parks and Recreation league setting at the age of 9. Allen went on to play volleyball at Warren County Middle School, where her mother served as coach.

“It’s something I fell in love with,” she said. “I’ve always been around the game.

Allen continued to play volleyball through high school and at Livingstone College in Salisbury. However, there was another sport she loved — softball — which she also played at Livingstone. How could Allen choose between the two? She realized that softball was her favorite sport.

“Volleyball took over at some point,” Allen said.

At Livingstone College, she earned a Bachelor of Social Work degree. Allen went on to earn a master’s degree in NCAA Compliance and Sports Law from Drexel University in Pennsylvania.

She began a career which allowed her to explore her main interests — volleyball and law. Allen served as a volleyball coach at several North Carolina high schools — Southern Vance, Ben L. Smith High School in Greensboro and Hillside High School in Durham. While coaching, she also taught such subjects as Civics/Economics and Contemporary Law and Justice.

In addition, Allen has coached the Jammers Volleyball Club in Durham and worked as an office manager at Yale University in Connecticut during the Summer Institute for the Gifted program.

More recently, she returned to her alma mater, Livingstone College, as volleyball and softball coach. Allen was especially thrilled to be coaching volleyball there. 

“It was a great feeling,” she said. “It was surreal the entire time. It was really personal. I wanted to restore the reputation of Livingstone volleyball. I had a great time.”

On July 1, she became the volleyball head coach for the Alverno Inferno. Allen had to adjust to a new time zone, state and city, but she said that the transition was smooth. She arrived in Milwaukee with one connection already established. A Livingstone colleague serves as the Alverno athletic director. Allen quickly formed a bond with the college community and with Milwaukee in general.

“The community has been extremely helpful in the transition,” she said. “Milwaukee is a big city with a small town feel. It was a great transition.”

As Allen began her new coaching position, she and her team faced a challenge. The volleyball team had not played since October 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How would everyone respond?

“It felt a little nerve-racking at first, but once we got in rhythm, it felt normal again,” Allen said.

Her team responded well, winning their opening game by a score of 3-2. All games are livestreamed on the Alverno College website. Go to, click on Volleyball and Schedule. Go to the game and click on the video icon to watch.

Allen stays in touch with family and friends in her home county on a regular basis, but looks forward to seeing loved ones in person later this year.

“I will be in Warren County as soon as the holidays come around,” she said.