Wins and losses have always been a part of the game for Tennessee women’s soccer forward Khadija “Bunny” Shaw, whether on the field or in life.
For now, Shaw is enjoying the victories. She graduates this week with a degree in communication studies, and shortly afterward she will prepare to lead Jamaica to its first-ever appearance in a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
From Spanish Town, Jamaica, a former capital city less than an hour to the west of the current capital, Kingston, Shaw has spent the past two years in Knoxville. She has emerged among the top female collegiate athletes in the country, leading UT in goals scored in 2017 and 2018 and contributing to the team’s appearance in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals for the first time since the program’s inception in 2016.
But the path that led her to UT and success as a soon-to-be professional athlete has also been filled with tragedy. When Shaw was a girl, three of her brothers were killed in gang-related gun violence and another brother was killed in a car accident. In 2016 she lost two nephews, one to a gunshot and the other after he was electrocuted on a soccer field.
Shaw carries the memories of all of these family members with her as she walks across the commencement stage.
This academic achievement for Shaw comes on top of a long list of athletic achievements in 2018. After playing a key role in leading UT women’s soccer to the best season in its history, she was selected an NCAA All-American, named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year, and finished second behind veteran United States forward Alex Morgan for CONCACAF Female Player of the Year.
Shaw was also named by the Guardian as its Footballer of the Year for her on-field performances for Jamaica, which she helped lead to third place in the CONCACAF women’s championship—the regional qualifying tournament for the World Cup—with three goals in five games. With Shaw’s key contribution, Jamaica became the first women’s team from the Caribbean to participate in the world’s largest soccer tournament.
Shaw accomplished all this while balancing her academic commitments.
After graduation, Shaw will prepare to leave for France, where Jamaica will play its opening World Cup game against Brazil on June 9. Following the tournament Shaw, who signed with A&V Sports Agency and in April became the first female soccer player from the Caribbean to sign a sponsorship deal with Nike, will make her transition into professional soccer.
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