Photo Credit: Cal Athletics

Shannan Lum Shows Anything is ‘Very Possible’ in New Role with Nebraska

June 20, 2021

If you ask Shannan Lum to describe the last month, she’ll tell you that it has been overwhelming and humbling. It’s also been a month filled with gratitude as she adjusts to life in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Lum joined the men’s basketball program as the recruiting coordinator, a newly-created position at Nebraska, on May 24. It’s a role that will ask her to help coach Fred Hoiberg and his staff in advanced scouting—including opponent and team self-scouting, and game preparation. She will also oversee the recruiting landscape for Nebraska (with a focus on the NCAA transfer portal) and will implement and manage the Huskers’ recruiting database and assist with recruiting research.

She’s ready to get to work—and Lum certainly hit the ground running in her new role—but she understands the gravity of this moment. Lum is currently one of two women to hold the recruiting coordinator position at a Power Five men’s basketball program and the first of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent.

Shannan Lum in action for Cal. (Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics)

“I think as a young woman who is, as people were saying, breaking barriers, you have to be around people that are willing to be OK with that because for a little while, that’s what people will want to talk about,” Lum told Hail Varsity. “It shouldn’t be—I hope it becomes the norm for women to be in roles like these—but I understand why it is at the time.”

Hoiberg and his staff have been nothing but supportive and welcoming of Lum since she arrived in Lincoln. They also understand the interview requests she’s receiving. The players do too. “There are no egos here,” Lum says about Hoiberg and the team of people he’s surrounded himself with. It’s been nothing but “overwhelming welcomeness from everyone” as she’s settled into her new role.

Lum arrived in Nebraska after most recently serving as the director of video for the Cal women’s basketball team for the past two seasons, overseeing scouting and analytics and video breakdown and exchange. She also assisted in recruiting and player development through film. Prior to her time at Cal, she was an intern for the Stanford women’s basketball team for the 2018–19 season. She assisted in the Cardinal’s basketball analysis for scouting and day-to-day operations.

She’s a 2018 graduate of St. John’s University, where she spent her two final seasons in Queens as the head manager and operations assistant with the Red Storm men’s basketball program. She also spent two seasons with the St. John’s women’s basketball program, serving as a basketball skills and development trainer.

Nebraska was new for Lum, so she appreciated the immediate kindness of not only the Huskers’ staff and players, but also the fans. As Lum makes trips to the grocery store and to restaurants, she’s often stopped and greeted by those that see her.

“Everyone has been so welcoming to me and I can’t thank them all enough for that because it is a big move to go from either New York or California to Nebraska when I’ve only ever been to Creighton for one night right before a game,” Lum said. “I’ve only ever been to Nebraska for the two days for a game at Creighton when I was at St. John’s. Other than that, I’ve never really been here and I didn’t know anything about the University of Nebraska.”

Lum did know current Nebraska assistants Matt Abdelmassih and Luca Virgilio from her time at St. John’s. When the Huskers called, they were the ones to help answer questions and provide any insight Lum needed.

“When you bring Coach Hoiberg and his record and his experience to the table, … it was hard to turn that down,” Lum said. “Obviously, I didn’t know Coach Hoiberg, but Matt and Luca made me feel like, ‘OK, I’m walking through this experience with people who do care about me and my well-being.'”

She also knew the values and perspective that Abdelmassih and Virgilio shared, so she trusted their judgement. Plus, Lum did her homework. She may not have personally known Hoiberg or some of the members of his staff prior to her hire, but she asked around. The reviews were glowing.

“And if someone I spoke with didn’t know them, they’d always say, ‘Well, I’ll tell you what, I don’t know him personally, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about this man,'” Lum said.

On the reverse, Hoiberg had heard nothing but good things about Lum. She may not have played college ball—she’ll tell you she’s always been more of a coach than a player—but she put in the work to expand her knowledge of the game. And while Lum grew up playing sports, it was high school that changed her path.

“I realized it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t going to play at the next level because my physical ability was just not there,” Lum said. “But my mind could do wonders.”

Her younger brother, Walter, was the player. As the two grew up and Walter played and traveled more for basketball, Lum learned as much as she could. While Walter played, Lum was watching his coaches.

Over time, Lum started corralling the younger siblings of her brother’s teammates.

“They’re second-graders, third-graders. They just want to throw a ball around and stuff, but I would actually take them on the side and run a little mini practice with them,” Lum said. “That’s where I got my passion as well. It was like, ‘Wow, this is really fun.’ I thoroughly enjoy it and I can actually teach it.”

Shannan Lum during a game. (Photo courtesy of Cal Athletics)

With the support of her family—Lum’s parents have always believed she could be anything and do anything she set her mind to—she followed her passion. She jokes that there are still days she has to convince her mom, Sue, that she is doing exactly what she’s meant to do, but it never takes much convincing. All Sue has ever wanted for her daughter was to work hard and never give up on her dreams.

“She’s just been a proponent of, well, if you think you can do it, you’ve got to go for it,” Lum said. “You just have to be prepared to handle the adversity that you’ll face. She’s been supportive the whole way.”

Lum received her official university name plate from Nebraska on June 12, her 25th birthday. She shared a photo on Twitter, offering up her thoughts on what the future might hold. She knew one thing for certain: she’d spend a lot of it at Pinnacle Bank Arena.

Lum is already busy. Between interviews, she’s running to meet one player while taking a phone call from another. She has a lot to learn about how Nebraska can best utilize the transfer portal, but she’s eager to put her knowledge to work. She’s also looking forward to the days where the interviews start to focus solely on the work, not just for herself but for all women shattering glass ceilings in sports.

“I understand the gravity of the situation” Lum said. “I joke with people that it doesn’t mean anything until I actually do something here though.”

But, again, she gets it. Just like she’s looked up to women like Becky Hammon, she knows what her role might mean to the girls and women everywhere now looking at her. In her case, she hopes to continue showing everyone that their goals are attainable. For her, Hammon’s résumé still includes playing experience that Lum does not have.

That means the work is still there. Not only for the little girls looking at Lum, but for every person who doesn’t believe their dreams are achievable.

“I’m hoping I can pave a way for the managers in the world or for the non-athletes in the world because there’s a lot of us out there that they don’t always get the chance and sometimes they need someone to show them that they can do it,” Lum said. “I’m trying to be that person that I have no ties to the NBA, I have no ties to college basketball.

“I’m just the most random individual in the world, but it’s possible. It’s very possible.”

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