Story by Andrew Bowen of the Greene County Daily World
Basketball, biology, and a horse on campus.
Those are the reasons former White River Valley player Shannon Pittman went to Earlham College in Richmond. Pittman, a 2016 graduate of White River Valleh High School (WRV), often starts as a guard for the Quakers in her freshman year of college. She said she chose the NCAA Division III college because it has a "really good" biology program and she wants to go into medicine or physical therapy after graduation.
"I enjoy it very much," Pittman said. "I come from a community that's not very diverse. There's a lot of diversity here."
Earlham's record stands at 3-22, 2-16 in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference play, after defeating visiting Mount St. Joseph 65-63 in the season finale. Pittman said it doesn't bother her to play on a team with a losing record. She said all of Earlham's players are dedicated to the game and each of them brings much talent to the team.
"They are in every day win or lose and work just as hard. The team has so much heart," she said. "Every day at practice really teaches you to see how much you love the game of basketball."
An injured knee prevented Pittman from playing against Mount St. Joseph, but she has started 20 of the Quakers' 25 games and played in all but three of them. She tore the anterior cruciate ligament on that knee in her last year in high school when she and Eastern's Kayla Rogers tangled up under the basket. Pittman said this injury has nothing to do with the ACL, though. She said the ACL healed just in time for her to undergo conditioning at Earlham.
"I recovered just in time for conditioning," she said. "I'm glad I got back at basketball time, but at the time it was quite hard."
Pittman has averaged 19.4 minutes per game in those contests. She has scored 184 points by hitting 64-163 field-goal attempts (39.3 percent) and 44-66 free-throw attempts (66.7 percent). Pittman is shooting 12-43 (27.9 percent) from three-point range as she's averaged 8.4 points per game. She has pulled down 73 rebounds (3.3 rpg), dished out 28 assists (1.3 apg), swiped the ball 22 times (1.0 spg) and blocked two shots.
College basketball moves at a faster pace than the high school game, but Pittman said that doesn't bother her, nor has she had any problems adjusting to the 30-second shot clock.
"I enjoy the speed of the game," she said.
However, she said she had to adjust to the bigger college court as well as playing on a team that has 19 players.
"That's a big difference for me," Pittman said. "At WRV we had a six or seven-man rotation. Having this many players makes a big difference."
Her horse Kirby is another reason Pittman enjoys Earlham. The college allows her to stable Kirby in one of its barns and she can ride four times a week.
"They have a student-run barn program," she said. "It's beautiful."
Pittman said she showed horses and rode them in 4-H for 10 years. Riding Kirby gives her a break from practices, she said, and her teammates also enjoy riding the steed.
"I get to bring my horse, study biology, and play basketball," she said. "You couldn't ask for anything more."