Jamaican Khadija Shaw has had a major impact on the women’s soccer program at the University of Tennessee every since she first arrived on campus in the fall of 2017. A senior forward from Spanish Town in Jamaica, Shaw has made 21 goals in 27 games, or 0.78 goals per game on average, which is the highest rate in the history of the university program.
At a recent Nuttycomb Invitational in Lexington, Kentucky, the Tennessee women’s team, ranked at Number 12, was victorious over the Kentucky Wildcats as Shaw turned in a record performance. The Lady Vols (9-1-1, 3-1 SEC) defeated the Wildcats (4-9-0, 0-4 SEC) with a score of 3-1. Shaw had the first goal of the night in the 36th minute of the game with an assist from Mary Alive Vignola, a junior forward. Shaw made the goal from three yards out and the Vols had a 1-0 lead. Shaw’s second goal came in the 60th minute off a corner kick from Katie Cousins, a junior midfielder. And the night continued with Shaw make a late goal in the second half on a penalty kick in the 74th minute, allowing her to attain her second career hat trick and third consecutive game with at least one goal.
The three goals give Shaw a place in Tennessee soccer history and in the company of greats like Alison Campbell (1998-99) and Melissa Covington (1995-98), the only other former Lady Vols to have accomplished this feat. The journey to stardom at Tennessee and the forefront of SEC Division I soccer represents a long way from Spanish Town. Shaw left the US to represent Jamaica at the CONCACAF Women’s Championships recently, and her return to Tennessee has worked wonders on its soccer team on and off the field. Shaw herself is always quick to praise her teammates for bringing the Vols to victory, citing their roles in helping her make her goals.
Soccer was what helped Shaw, the 5-foot, 11-inch midfielder everyone calls “Bunny” escaped gang violence in Spanish Town. Personal tragedy motivated her to change her life through soccer. Her UT coach Brian Pensky says that nobody can imagine the things Shaw has been through in her life; three of her brothers have been murdered, a cousin was electrocuted, and one of her cousins was shot in his home driveway. Gang violence is a big problem in Spanish Town, and Shaw said she had a tough life while growing up in the violent environment. She said she had to shut all of it out and focus on her soccer career, which was hard sometimes to come from practice into crime scenes. One of her brothers who died was the one who taught her to play soccer.
Shaw has represented Jamaica at every age-group national team, including three U-14, U-17, and U-20 at the same time at the age of 14. Before coming to the Lady Vols in Tennessee, Shaw attended Navarro College in Texas and Eastern Florida State College.