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Women's Lacrosse Senior Shannon Aikens Featured In Catholic Review

April 27, 2016

Loyola University coach was mom first, then Baltimore lacrosse icon

By Nancy Menefee Jackson
Special to the Review

Shannon Aikens was 9 years old when her mother died of brain cancer.

She didn’t realize then that Diane Geppi Aikens had been a lacrosse icon at Loyola University Maryland, even though Shannon’s baby shower was held there and she grew up on campus.

Geppi Aikens had been an All-American goalie for the Greyhounds, but left a bigger mark as their coach, putting Loyola on the women’s lacrosse map with a 197-71 record and 10 NCAA tournament appearances, including seven final fours.

As a child, Shannon was somewhat puzzled by the attention her mother received. In what would be her final season, Geppi Aikens, then 40, led her top-ranked team to the NCAA semifinals from a motorized wheelchair while battling terminal cancer.

“People said ‘she’s brave, she’s an inspiration,’ she’s on the news – she was my mom,” said Shannon, who remembers the mother who put on music in the morning and danced with her four children, made it a priority to get to their activites and “always made sure we felt loved beyond compare.”

As a senior lacrosse player at Loyola, however, Shannon understands full well her mother’s achievements. That’s why she was surprised and deeply moved when, after her mother was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame last autumn, Greyhound coach Jen Adams held up jersey No. 20, her mother’s number, and said that Loyola would be honored if Shannon would wear it for her senior season.

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