Loved, Loyal, Hard-Worker & Loves Others

Michael Shanks, or just “Shanks” as he is known and loved is a familiar face around the Belmont campus. We know he is quite tall, athletic, and a talented basketball player.

Michael and I met on a Belmont Athletics Missions trip to Unalakleet, Alaska. Before the trip, everyone on the team was strangers, but by the end of the time, we all quickly became good friends.

Michael’s words were phenomenal during our discussion. This blog will be more of Michael’s thoughts and feelings as he takes us through his journey.

Here is his story!

High School

As most collegiate athletes develop exponentially within their high school careers, Michael was no exception. With basketball being one of the main components of his identity, he quickly felt that others tied his worth with his performance.

I was more worried that basketball is who everybody viewed me as. Like if I was good at basketball, people would like me.

To set the tone for his high school years, Michael received his first D1 offer at the end of 9th-grade. This added to the pressure and raised the expectations for his performance.

I just feel that everybody viewed me as a basketball player and nothing else. Or if they did view me as somebody else, it was because they knew me through basketball. It’s like you can’t get away from it.

Even though Michael struggled with the separation of your sport is what you do, not who you are, he has discovered a new side to himself during his time at Belmont.


Freshman Year: In his first year at Belmont, he faced an injury in his knee. After surgery, he took a redshirt for his first season.

Sophomore Year: Fast forward a year and a half post-surgery, and he is back to playing but did not see much court time. In combination with all of this, the COVID pandemic hit and Michael still was fighting for his spot on the court.

Junior Year: Seeing more time, Michael was feeling more comfortable on the court and finding his rhythm. 

Pre-Senior Year: Michael is vying for more court time and being looked to as a staple player on the team. He’s excited for this season!

The Collegiate COVID Experience 

“COVID shaming”: the term used within athletics to describe the negative association with testing positive for COVID and the repercussions one positive test or contact tracing had on the team.

Anybody who went through the NCAA and Belmont COVID regulations knows how demanding they can be. Everyone wants to follow the rules to the T so that the team can play.

We were stuck here with nobody else around. We have all of these protocols and feel like we are in jail – which can’t be good for your mental health… It had a crazy impact on athletes being forced to stay put, and not see your friends.

The combination of the rules, protocols, and wanting to play, the COVID season was a difficult one to get through.

On Campus Involvement 

There are a variety of ways to get involved on a new college campus for any student. However, the college athlete’s schedule exploits the lack of free time. Even though, being committed to a collegiate team comes with its perks and built-in best friends and community.

Getting involved with different things from basketball shows that I can
use the platform to meet cool, new friends, and serve in a village. I think even if we do not want our lives around sports, it is kind’ve who we are, but we can branch off of it and take advantage of opportunities given to us through it.

The message we have tried to make clear so far on this blog: College sports is not all glitz and glam. Michael couldn’t agree more.

It’s draining. You do the same thing every day for five years. It’s worth it for sure, but it is not easy physically or mentally.

The “glitz and glam” doesn’t stop there. Michael expresses that being a student-athlete is a job. Those that don’t put in the extra work and dedicate time towards their craft- well… they’ll get their job taken. Being good enough to receive an athletic scholarship is one thing, but keeping the scholarship can be another battle.

Shaping at Belmont

Belmont has helped me find my character without basketball. Within the past two years, I’ve sat back and said “sure I play basketball, I love it, love playing it, but there’s so much more to it.”

Belmont’s religious component has positively impacted Michael’s life. There are various faith-based opportunities to pursue and he says he has spent more in the past two years finding his faith than before. Along with being spiritually filled by opportunities from Belmont, Michael gives back each year to the kids that come to basketball camp.

I think it is awesome to give back to kids. If I can show them that I am a nice guy, I care about them, I don’t care how good they are at basketball, and just want them to have a good time. It doesn’t change how they think about sports, but I think that I’ve helped build that community idea.

Michael’s Message:

His message to us is to get to know the people around you. Not just those on your team, but others that can relate to you if you are struggling. As an athletic department, we can become closer, hang out, and relate with those not on our teams.

He finds ways to decompress and get his mind off things such as fishing and alone time. Finding ways to fill your cup are important to stay engaged with your journey.

Who is Michael Shanks?

Sometimes we get the question “who are you?” and must pause and think. In no time, Michael had a list of characteristics and qualities that he holds close to his heart.

  • hardworking
  • caring
  • dedicated
  • outdoorsman
  • loves competing with friends
  • loves basketball
  • loves serving others
  • being there for friends and family
  • faithful
  • kind

Beyond The Net, I am Loved, Love Others, Hard Worker, and Loyal.

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