RH: Shannon Lamb’s Influence Seen in All Areas of Program’s Rise

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The RoundHouse | 6/23/2022 10:00:00 AM

Each fall, alums return to Charles Koch Arena to remember their time playing volleyball for Wichita State. They line up on the court at intermission, sometimes with their children alongside.

Those former Shockers are evidence of what Shannon Lamb loves the most about 22 years helping her husband build the program.

“It’s that unbreakable bond,” she said. “The relationships you grow with the young women that are in the program, and as they move on and start their families and have their jobs. They come back and it is the coolest thing ever to be able to spend time with them.”

Shannon (Hoyt) Lamb came to Wichita State in March 2000 with soon-to-be husband Chris Lamb. After 22 seasons with the Wichita State volleyball program, Shannon Lamb announced this week that she is stepping down from her position as director of operations due to health issues.

“This was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but one I feel is in the best interest of the program I love so much,” Shannon Lamb said. “As I continue to deal with the effects of a concussion I sustained more than two years ago, the difficulties of balancing treatment and the demands of this position became increasingly clear. Ultimately, I believe this decision is the right one for both my health and Shocker volleyball.”

The change will allow her to spend more time on rehab such as physical and occupational therapy.

“Chris has been my rock through this entire thing,” she said. “I’ll miss being part of the team. That has never gotten old for me. There’s so much energy around the players and the program. It’s just a really cool thing to be a part of a team.”

Shannon Lamb spent nine seasons as an assistant coach and 13 as director of operations.

“Shannon is such a big part of everything we’ve accomplished here at Wichita State,” Chris Lamb said. “Her genuine relationships with the players, fans, and staff helped create the family atmosphere we strive for within the Shocker volleyball program. I know this wasn’t an easy decision for Shannon to make, but at the end of the day her health and well-being is more important than her work.”

The Lambs made Shocker volleyball cool by creating a formidable fan-base and building teams that played in 11 NCAA Tournaments and won seven conference titles. Shannon Lamb played an important role in moving past the early struggles to the landmark seasons which followed. The Shockers defeated Arkansas and Kansas on their way to the 2012 Sweet 16, hosted NCAA play in 2017 and rolled to unbeaten conference records in 2005, 2008 and 2017, their debut season in the American Athletic Conference.

She served as assistant coach from 2000-2008. As director of operations, she organized the team’s travel and off-court logistics and poured hours into activities such as the Volleyball 101 Dinner, alumni weekend and Shocks Match Club that built bonds with fans and raised money.

“She was definitely a mother, a role model and a mentor,” said Elizabeth (Meyers) Walker, who played from 2001-05. “Being away from home, she was someone you could go to and speak to about anything. She always had great advice and was a terrific woman leading the way in female sports.”

She supplied food for bus trips and Shockers fondly remember her insisting on healthy food. She was flexible enough, however, to get Jody Larson’s favorite flavor of Cheez-Its (white cheddar) and sneak Sam Sanders a pre-match Pepper in exchange for a promise to drink an equal amount of water.

“I don’t know how many people have said that, in their senior speeches, about the Cheez-Its – and that is not a healthy snack,” Shannon Lamb said. “Sometimes, you just have to get things that make people feel good.”

Wichita State started setting attendance records as the program improved, highlighted by two crowds of 6,000-plus in 2007. An NCAA second-round game against Missouri drew 7,258 fans in 2017. That support made the Shockers a regular in the national top 25 for attendance , including a spot at No. 7 (3,401) in 2017.

Building that relationship with fans through pre-match scouting reports, auctions, dinners, camps, and the media helped turn Shocker volleyball into an event. In the early years, Chris and Shannon Lamb invested time in educating new fans on the rules and strategies.

“A few years after we started Volleyball 101, people really seemed to understand the game a lot better,” she said. “It also allowed us to become very close with, get to know, a lot of the Shocker fans. It enriches your life when you get to know other people. To be able to connect with them and get to know them, it makes life a lot cooler.”

As the program grew, Shannon Lamb said Wichita State became the place they did not want to leave. The student-athletes on the roster excited them, they enjoyed the rising fan support and appreciated growing budget support from the administration.

“Chris is a grinder – he’s not afraid to work hard,” she said. “I’m not afraid to work hard. We knew that we could do it. This city supports Wichita State and we really, really like that a lot.”

As Shannon Lamb wraps up her time in the office, she is framed by signs of Wichita State’s success – conference trophies, volleyballs commemorating landmark accomplishments. She thinks about the many Shockers – some of them stars such as Sara Lungren or Mary Elizabeth Hooper and some leaders such as MaryAshton Floyd, Kim Wadsworth and Eleni Romano – who built the program.

While her departure is a significant change, she is confident and excited about the current group of Shockers and the momentum in the program after a successful 2021 season.

“It’s a special place,” she said. “(Chris) does bring so much positive energy and enthusiasm. He has such a fun sense of humor. It’s an adventure every day.”

Paul Suellentrop covers Wichita State Athletics and the American Athletic Conference for university Strategic Communications. Story suggestion? Contact him at [email protected]

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