Makayla is a junior in her second year of journalism. She plays softball and volleyball. Makayla is an aspiring surgeon and beach lover.
Driven by a Love for Volleyball
March 4, 2021
Many people play a sport for a few years throughout high school, then go to college and leave it all behind. Susan Shields, the varsity volleyball coach at FCHS, is one exception to this pattern.
Shields, formerly known as Susan Peters, grew in a small town in West Virginia called Raleigh County where she attended Marsh Fork High School. She started playing volleyball when she was 10 and instantly fell in love with it. “I was very fortunate growing up that my elementary school had a team, so I started playing in 4th grade…I loved it and knew that I wanted to play it all the time,” she said.
Shields went on to play college volleyball at Concord University in Athens, West Virginia, where she studied Physical Education K-12. “I definitely had to learn early on in my freshman year how to balance all of the practices, workouts, and traveling for matches with my studies,” she said. She remembers her college days fondly. “I became friends with some amazing people and consider that time to be some of my favorite memories for sure,” she said.
Throughout Shields’ volleyball career, she played as a defensive specialist, including until her junior year of college. At the start of her junior season, she had earned a position as a setter and this is when she felt like she had found her home. Shields now coaches her daughter, FCHS sophomore Faith Shields, who has been playing volleyball since she was two years old and just so happens to be a setter as well.
“I love having my mom as a coach. She pushes me harder than everyone else and never for a second takes it easy on me, which I love,” said Faith. When asked if she would ever choose to follow in her mom’s footsteps and coach one day, Faith said, “I have thought about coaching at times, but I don’t think it’s the path I’ll take.”
Faith also added that she and her mom maintain a “coach-player” relationship. “My mom and I have a rule for the gym that I must call her ‘Coach Shields’ and she is strictly my coach. It’s really helped me as a player to establish that with her,” Faith added.
Strangely enough, Susan Shields married someone who shared her love for volleyball. “Not surprising, but I met [my husband] playing volleyball for the city league in Charlottesville,” said Shields. They have three children: Cameron, who plays college baseball at Hampden-Sydney University, Faith, and Brody, who plays basketball and baseball at Fluvanna Middle School.
Shields says that she believes her love for volleyball has gotten her where she is today, teaching P.E. at the middle school, and then coaching volleyball at the high school in the afternoons. Her decision with her husband to settle down and raise their family here is something for which many past and present Fluvanna volleyball players are grateful.