Shannyn Gillespie is a native of Evanston, Illinois and went to high school at Evanston Township where he earned Hall of Fame honors for wrestling. What is remarkable about this accomplishment is that Shannyn didn’t start wrestling until his freshman year in high school. Many would consider this a very late start especially considering Shannyn earned state titles in all three wrestling styles; Folkstyle, Greco-Roman and freestyle. Many wrestlers compete for years and start as young as 4, 5 and 6 years old and never reach this amazing level of accomplishment.
From Evanston Township High school Shannyn went on to wrestle at Lockhaven University where he again earned Hall of Fame honors due to his wrestling career. Shannyn also earned Hall of Fame honors in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and Eastern Wrestling League. Shannyn earned All American status at Lockhaven and Silver medals at the USAW University Nationals.
Shannyn has coached at and continues to help at some of these programs today; Northwestern, California University, Northern Illinois University, Overtime School of Wrestling and contributes to Beat the Streets-Chicago national wrestling program. Coach Shannyn was also the United States Female Freestyle Team Coach and spent many years at the USOEC (United States Olympic Education Center) until it closed due to funding cuts. I met Coach Shannyn when he took on the position as the Illinois Girls Wrestling Coach. This is a great benefit to the girls of Illinois due to Coach Shannyn helped coach many women to Olympic, Jr World, Pan American and National Championship medals over his time as Freestyle Female National Team Coach.
The first time I met Shannyn was in Oct 2012. I had scheduled an interview on a web cast at a local restaurant and I invited Shannyn to participate with me. The interview was to discuss girls wrestling in Illinois. Shannyn was selected to be the Coach for the Illinois Girls Wrestling program just months prior to this event and due to Shannyn’s work in the field of female wrestling, what better person to join me. We were joined by another person, Arielle Nava, a female wrestler competing against boys in the IHSA (Illinois High School Association) at that time. . Shannyn’s experience as the National Female Team Coach became obvious when he began to prepare Arielle to go in front of the camera. Not that Arielle needed much preparation. She is a strong, confident and intelligent women that has most likely gained much of these traits through wrestling.
Shannyn has recently become part of a small committee that are tasked with helping grow female wrestling in Illinois. One of his colleagues in this committee had this to say about Shannyn, “Over the course of the past two years I have had the pleasure of knowing, admiring, and taking notes on Coach Gillespie. He’s a true leader, and one of the best advocates for gender equality in women’s wrestling. He was a successful wrestler on the mat, a successful coach in the corner, and I have no doubt that the girls of Illinois will be successful under his leadership and experience”~ Jason Stauffenberg, Yorkville Wrestling Club Head Coach and member of the Illinois Girls Wrestling Committee.
One thing I respect about Shannyn is his willingness to share his expertise, knowledge and life experiences. From his personal struggles to his wrestling expertise to his ability to life coach Shannyn shares it all and has a vast online library that he encourages people to utilize and often shares on the Internet. Shannyn has been all over the World as a coach for the USOEC and you will often see pictures and videos of great variety from architecture, historical sites, training facilities and wrestling techniques or even nature from his travels. When I think of being a student of the sport I envision Shannyn Gillespie who is a great combination of both student and teacher of the sport. By this I mean that Coach Shannyn is free with sharing his knowledge on one hand and constantly asking questions and learning himself on the other hand. If you ever get the pleasure of being around Shannyn at a wrestling tournament, introduce yourself and I guarantee within a few short minutes you will walk away a more knowledgable person in some regard or at minimum you will have had some great conversation.
Screen Name coachshannyn (Twitter)
Illinois Girls Wrestling FB page
Shannyn’s Favorite Quotation
Constantly and never ending improvement.