Penn State experience is better together for two sisters

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Five College of Education student-athletes were recently recognized with spring 2014 Academic All-Big Ten honors. Two of these honorees, Shannon and Kelly Lechner, are sisters whose Penn State experiences have been enhanced by being together, both in the College’s rehabilitation and human services (RHS) program and as members of the women’s lacrosse team.

“Kelly and I are super close,” said Shannon. “She is my younger sister but also my best friend.”

Shannon added that people ask her all the time if the sisters get tired of being together so much, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“Kelly and I have grown up being together in school and sports, so sharing the college experience was the most fun I’ve ever had,” said Shannon.

Shannon Lechner

Shannon Lechner passes the ball to a teammate while running up the field. 

Image: Mark Selders/Penn State Athletic Communications

The sisters do a lot together, everything from rooming with eight other teammates to going on morning runs.

“I love being at Penn State with my sister,” said Kelly. “She is always there whenever I need her, and she gives me advice that no one else can. Being in the same major is awesome because we can help each other study.”

In the classroom, Kelly, a junior, and Shannon, a senior who graduates in summer 2014, have seen a lot of success academically. This is Shannon’s second time receiving the Big Ten honor. She also received the senior academic achievement award at the end of the 2014 season, and she made the dean’s list in 2012. Kelly has earned the Big Ten honor three times since her freshman year.

“I always make earning this honor a goal of mine every year,” said Kelly. “My grades are very important to me, and it is really exciting to be rewarded for my hard work at the end of the semester.”

Kelly Lechner

With a defender covering her, Kelly Lechner looks for the opportunity to make a play.

Image: Mark Selders/Penn State Athletic Communications

Shannon said that, considering how challenging Penn State is academically, earning Big Ten honors is an amazing accomplishment for her and her sister. For a student-athlete to receive this honor, they must be a letterwinner and carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or better.

The sisters both chose RHS as their major because they both have aspirations to work with children after they graduate.

Shannon, who intends to work with children before attending graduate school to get her master’s degree and pursue counseling, said she appreciates the flexibility that the RHS program offers and the career options that are available to graduates.

Kelly said that it is her dream to work as a child life specialist to help kids conquer their fears of the hospital. She said she used to be afraid of the hospital until she had heart surgery in high school for a condition called supraventricular tachycardia.

“A child life specialist at Johns Hopkins Hospital helped me through my experience and inspired me to do the same,” said Kelly.

As athletes, the Lechner sisters, who have played lacrosse since they were very young, work together on and off the field to improve their lacrosse skills.

“We love the sport and grew up around it,” said Shannon, “but most importantly, we love playing together.”

Missy Doherty, the head coach of the women’s lacrosse team, said that Kelly, a midfielder and one of team’s captains, and Shannon, an attacker, have a great relationship, which has made each one of them better.

“Shannon has always brought a sense of togetherness and love and is a teammate you always want to have. Kelly brings a sense of competitiveness and drive and has helped us out in critical game situations,” said Doherty. “To see two sisters get along so well and support each other, I think that makes the people around them stronger and our team closer.”

Kelly said she sees a connection between her major and her sport.

“For both, I have to do my homework,” said Kelly. “For my classes I had to do my homework assignments and the readings in order to be successful. The same thing goes for lacrosse. We watch film, and I practice on my own in order to be the best I can be on the field.”

Beyond the classroom and the lacrosse field, the Lechner sisters participate in many other Penn State activities. Shannon has danced in THON twice and was also her team’s student athlete advisory board leader where she coordinated events for her team. Kelly is a member of the Athletic Directors Leadership Institute, which is a group of athletes who work on various aspects of leadership.

“I love being a member of this group because I get to meet athletes from every team, and they help me become a stronger leader,” said Kelly.

Both sisters agree that what makes their team so special is the bonds the team has.

“My team is a group of hard working girls who love to play together and push each other to our limits,” said Kelly.

“I know I will keep in touch with so many of these girls because they have become my best friends,” said Shannon.

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Last Updated August 06, 2014