Cover Story: Shannon Ihrke “Committed to Courage”

Heating things up this Summer on our July cover is Marine Veteran and Chicago based model Shannon Ihrke. A few years ago we met Shannon when she first launched her modeling career as a MMA Ring Girl. Her story is one of inspiration, courage and commitment to a healthy lifestyle. 

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

Hi, Shannon! Welcome to MOLL Magazine, we are excited to have you as our July Cover Model. Can you tell our readers about yourself?

Originally from Minnesota, I moved out of the state when I was 19 years old after attending college for two years at Saint Cloud State University in order to join the Marine Corps. While in, I actively served duty in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Illinois as an administrative specialist, while also taking college courses online through Ashford University. After dedicating four years to the military, I chose to focus solely on my modeling career. At 5’8’’ and 120 lbs., I have modeled in a variety of areas including fashion, swimwear, casual, print/editorial, glamour, lingerie, music videos, promotional, runway, beauty, and fitness.

Are you excited to be on the cover?


(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

How did you get started in modeling? What would you call your most successful modeling accomplishments?

I started with an online profile through Model Mayhem, although I wouldn’t recommend that route to new models anymore because it’s died out for the most part. My modeling career took off in 2011, when I was selected as a Maxim Hometown Hottie Finalist. I ended up finishing in the top 10! Since being a finalist, I have shot with Maxim on a couple occasions. I was in their past two Military Issues, had a 4 page spread in their 2012 issue, and landed the cover of their May 2013 issue sporting a red, white, and blue American flag bikini!

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

What other modeling happened after MAXIM?

Shortly after landing the cover, I also won the title of Chicago’s Miss Tropic Beauty! Some other magazines I’ve been in include: Show Off Magazine, Empire Radio Magazine, Fight! Magazine (X2), UFC 360, Fitness Gurlz Magazine, 3 covers of VS Chicago Magazine, and Vanquish Magazine. In addition to print, I’ve also done numerous fashion shows including: Romantica Lingerie, Fight Chix Apparel, Chicago Costumes, Ed Hardy, H&M, and the Original Rockstar Clothing Line. I’m also a huge fan of MMA (mixed martial arts). I’ve be blessed enough to ring girl for fight organizations such as Pro Elite, King of the Cage, Sterling Entertainment, Hidden Talent MMA, American Predator Fighting Champions, Bellator, and Invicta Fight Championships.

You were a Loop Rock Girl, what was it like working for the radio station?

While also modeling independently, for 3 years I represented Chicago’s biggest classic rock radio station as their official spokesmodel. After competing against hundreds of other girls, and going to the radio stations events, submitting a video about myself, speaking on the radio, doing a photoshoot, and competing in pageant-form, I was crowded the winner for 2013 and was told that I could been the permanent Rock Girl, a title that used to change annually. My job as the Loop Rock Girl included going on the morning radio show weekly, shooting for their yearly Loop Rock Girl calendar, introducing rock bands onto stage that performed in the Chicago area, helping raise money for charity, hosting events, and representing the radio station as a whole. That job was a once in a lifetime experience, and after doing it for 3 years, I have decided to make another goal and that is to finish my business degree.

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

Is there anything you wish to still achieve as a model still that you have not yet?

I’ve accomplished a lot of goals that I never even expected and at this point I’m just enjoying the ride.  I’ve been constantly modeling for almost 5 years now, so I’m just happy to still be on this rollercoaster ride.

What was it like shooting your cover with MOLL Magazine contributing cover photographer Lori Sapio?

I’ve worked with Lori Sapio twice and she’s always been an absolute pleasure to work with.  She always has a great team, organized, professional, and incredibly creative.

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

Are you currently involved with any other charity projects or organizations?

I actually founded my own charity called Committed To Courage that was created in order to serve veterans.  I used to do charity work for some other veteran-based charities, but later found out that 100% of the proceeds were going directly to the vets, so I knew that if I created my own that it would ensure that those funds would all be for those men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom. 

I created this charity as a way of giving back to veterans who have served and for those who are currently serving. As a Marine veteran myself, I know how hard it can be to be away from family for long periods of time and how difficult it can also be to transition back to civilian life from the military.

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

Why did you join the military & why the Marines?

I joined the military for a number of different reasons, so I can’t say it was one specific thing exactly, but the pros definitely outweighed the cons for me. I joined the Marines because their boot camp was the longest, there’s very few people who actually become Marines, especially females, and I wanted the hardest challenge possible. If I’m going to go for something, I’m going to go for it 100%.

Being a model is tough work staying in shape, do you bring your Marine past into your current work outs?

Honestly, no. I bring the same discipline, but the workouts for being a Marine and being a model are very different. When I was in the corps, I was building muscle and carrying 200 lb men on my back for physical training, I don’t do that kind of intense workout anymore. I focus on high repetitions and low weights.

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

What does being an American and having our freedom mean to you?

I don’t know if I can really answer that, I’ve never been anything but an American. Being free and an American is all I’ve ever known but I can tell you that I feel lucky. People from other countries all over the world pray for the day they can come to America, so why I got blessed enough to be born here is something I don’t take for granted.

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

Any advice for women wanting to join the Marines?  What about women coming out of the Marines or other military branches who want to do modeling?

I give the same advice to men or women thinking about joining the corps. Men and women aren’t treated any differently in the corps, if anything, females just have to work a bit harder to gain their male counterparts respect but Marines are Marines, no matter what gender. If they are thinking about it, I say, go for it and if they want to get out and model, I say, go for it! You give one shot at this life, do everything you want to do.

Are you involved with any leagues currently?

Chicago Boxing Club and Turner Motorsports Racing

What do you love most about MMA?

The amount of work those athletes put in is legendary! They put 100% of their everything into a place where you get locked in and the person standing across from you wants to hurt you. That’s absolutely crazy to me, and I’ve been hooked since I saw my first MMA match.

(Photo: Lori Sapio/Revival Pinups)

Who are your favorite male and female fighters?

Brian Stann, Conor McGregor, Rose Namajunas

What songs would be on the playlist of your life?

Anything classic rock or country.

We noticed your an animal lover, who’s the special best friend?

My adopted dog Little Bullet Man.

Your plans for 2016?

Be happy, simple as that.


Get Social with Shannon

Instagram & Twitter: @shannonihrke

Lori Sapio for Revival Pinups-
Photo Assistant- Anthony Tran
Hair/Makeup- Jen Bean
Stylist- Claire Ann
Location: Dusable Harbor, Chicago, IL