Through turbulent times people look for guidance from an influential person and a leader. During those circumstances in Manatee County, people look for Eddie Shannon, who has been a distinguished contributor to Florida athletics for several decades.
Through his 34 years of training, coaching and teaching at several schools, Shannon has touched many lives and continues to do so. He has contributed to the integration progress, promoting peace and harmony during strained times. He broke the color barrier, sending wide receiver Raymond Bellamy to the University of Miami – the Hurricanes’ first African-American student-athlete – and was the personal trainer for tennis legend Althea Gibson. Shannon coached for a year at Haines City and for another spell at Lincoln Memorial High School, but eventually left the profession to focus his efforts on children and student-athlete’s futures.
In 1996 he carried the Olympic Torch leading up to the summer games. In 2001 the Palmetto Youth Center was renamed “The Eddie Shannon Youth Center,” and in 2004 he earned the key to the city in Palmetto. He was the 2009 Manatee County “Hometown Hero” and has won the Omega Phi Psi Alumnus of the Year from Florida A&M eight times. “Through the Tunnel” was a film created about the 1969 journey that Lincoln High took, and stars Eddie Shannon who knows the story better than anyone.
He is currently the Manatee High School football team spiritual leader, and also serves as a motivational speaker for Manatee and Palmetto High Schools.