Shannon (Herold) Spanos has Montini athletics in the blood, to say the least.
Spanos, a 1999 graduate, played three sports at Montini. So, too, did her two older siblings Jennifer and Brian before her. She estimated that her dad, Tom, has attended every Montini football game for the last 30 years.
"They are a staple," Spanos said. "It's really just a part of our family."
Spanos came home this week.
The Glen Ellyn resident, who grew up in Downers Grove, has been hired as Montini's new girls basketball coach.
She steps into the big shoes left by Jason Nichols, who resigned last month to take the women's basketball job at Morton College. Nichols in 17 seasons won 521 games, with four state championships and 10 state trophies since 2008 in establishing Montini as one of the state's dominant programs. The Lady Broncos last year took third in Class 3A.
"It's a wonderful opportunity," Spanos said. "I was shocked when I heard Jason was leaving. It is my alma mater and it is has a special place in my heart. I'm looking forward to building on the success that Jason has had. What he has done has been truly incredible."
Spanos earned 12 varsity letters at Montini, in basketball, softball and volleyball. She scored more than 1,000 points in a four-year varsity basketball career, then went on to play collegiately at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.
She's been involved with the Chicago-based Flow Basketball Academy for the last couple of years, run camps and trained kids. Last season she served as the sophomore coach at Glenbard West.
"We set out to find a leader not only capable of continuing the winning tradition in the program, but someone who would lead with passion, energy, professionalism, and integrity," Montini Principal Kevin Beirne said in a statement. "Our athletes deserve the very best, and we’re confident we’ve found a great fit."
Spanos understands that she is succeeding one of the state's most wildly successful coaches, and a coach known for his dominant personality. Spanos has already told her new players that the personality may be different, but her passion for winning is just the same.
"I look forward to putting my stamp on the program," Spanos said. "It will look a little different than Jason, he is a very animated coach and I as well. The culture that I want to bring there is to build off what he has done and keep that winning tradition."
Spanos comes to Montini from another successful program, Glenbard West, where she received good experience on head coach Kristi Faulkner's staff.
"Kristi is absolutely wonderful. I have learned a lot from her and she cares so much for her girls," Spanos said. "She is real leader in women's sports, advocating for women."
Spanos said she always wanted to give back to the game, just the way that women's coaches in her life have given to her. Her volleyball coach at Montini, Anne Westerkamp, was one.
"She is a role model to me, and so is my college coach," Spanos said. "I wanted to give back to these young girls what these special girls have given me."
The COVID-19 pandemic makes the offseason a little different for a first-year coach, but Spanos met with her Montini girls this week. The Lady Broncos had a conditioning workout on Thursday, and afterwards sat outside and started to form a bond over ice cream. The Lady Broncos next year will return three of five starters and five of six sophomores from a young 33-5 team that graduated just two seniors.
"A lot of the girls are really involved in AAU basketball and I want them to have the opportunity to use July as their time to get noticed and shine," Spanos said. "We will meet, and we have met, but I do think that it is important to know the girls and find out what their vision for the season is."