Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shannon Shocks Coaches, Players with Resignation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shannon Shocks Coaches, Players with Resignation

Article excerpt

The football team's coaches already had gathered at East St. Louis Senior High by 8 a.m. Saturday. Never too early to prepare for an important game, and the Flyers had one five hours later against Sumner.

Marvin Lampkin, a former All-Metro player for the Flyers, was on hand as one of coach Bob Shannon's assistants. He couldn't sense anything wrong when Shannon gathered the staff.

And then Shannon, who has coached East St. Louis to six state titles in his 19 seasons, told them he intended to resign. He said the assistants would be in charge against Sumner.

Recalling the mood in that room, Lampkin paused.

"Shock," he said. "For the guys who had played for him, heartbreak.

"Myself, personally, it was like somebody had died in my family. It was something that was hard to believe. It still is."

Shannon told his players about an hour and a half after that. The Flyers lost 24-18 Saturday afternoon, and everyone left the field at Gateway Tech wondering about the future of the program.

On Saturday evening, Shannon cited longtime problems with East St. Louis School District No. 189 and a conflict with athletic director Art May as reasons for his impending resignation.

Lampkin, who says Shannon taught him how to be a man, dismissed any speculation that the Flyers' loss in last week's season opener and a smaller-than-usual squad influenced the decision.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the kids," Lampkin said. "Coach told me, `Lamp, it comes to a point that I've lived with so much of this and I have to take a stance. If I don't, it's going to continue and these kids are going to continue to suffer.'

"We're losing a guy who has made a lot of personal sacrifices to stay at East St. Louis. It's all because of the kids he's helped."

Sam Morgan questioned that sentiment. Morgan retired as East St. Louis principal this year after serving since 1975. He doesn't want Shannon portrayed as "a nice person."

"If he's so concerned about the kids, why walk out this way?" Morgan said. "Why not after the game? He makes some real demands on those kids, he owes them the balance of this year. What is he teaching these kids, that when you don't get your way you pick up your marbles and go home? …

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