Shepard is a part of Reed athletics year round, playing football, basketball and running track. And the senior’s impact is clear in each sport.
A star running back on the gridiron, the point guard and floor general on the hardwood and a top sprinter on the track, Shepard has left his finger prints all over the Raiders’ success during his four years at RHS. In his senior year, he’s trying to leave an even bigger mark behind.
After helping the Raider football team earn its second straight Division I North Championship by racking up 1,571 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns, Shepard is eager to prove even more Reed doubters wrong on the basketball court.
“Repeating in football was great because in the beginning people didn’t think that we could do it,” Shepard said. “We had lost some key players from the year before, and I was just happy that we could prove to everybody that we were just as equally as good as our team was last year. Now we have to do that with basketball because we lost a lot of key players here too.”
Although the Raiders lost a large chunk of their production from a year ago, Reed basketball coach Dustin Hall has no worries with Shepard leading the way for the Blue and Gold.
“This will be his third year as our starting point guard on varsity. He’s come a long way in the last three years and he’s done it while playing football and doing track,” Hall said of his senior guard. “He is an outstanding athlete. He’s extremely athletic and very strong. He’s only playing basketball three or four months out of the year and last year he was an all-league guard, so that just shows how much of an outstanding athlete he is.”
It is that athleticism that contributes to Shepard’s favorite part of his game on the court: defense.
“The best part of my game is definitely my defense,” he said. “I try to pride myself on defense more than anything. I feel like if I shut my man down, then I did something right. It feels great to do that, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t get the win. It doesn’t really mean anything if we lost.”
That winning mentality is what has allowed Shepard to put three years under his belt as a starter for the basketball program.
“He’s a kid that a lot of our kids look up to and respect,” Hall said. “His work ethic is top notch. Every time he steps on the court he works and he competes. He’s not the most vocal because he’s more of a leader by example, but I know all of his teammates respect him.”
His leadership role is something that Shepard said he takes pride in.
“I just try to be that guy that pumps everybody up,” he said. “I’m a communicator and a guy that I think my teammates can look for. I just think I’m a fire-starter pretty much.”
Although he loves each of the sports he plays, Shepard was not always as enthusiastic to begin with.
Shepard began playing football in the 5th grade, but he did not have the passion for the game that he does now.
“I just wanted to be like my dad. He was a football player at UNR and he also played basketball in high school and I just wanted to fill his shoes and try to be like him. When I started playing football though, I hated everything about it,” Shepard said. “I didn’t like getting hit. When I got my first touchdown, that’s when I fell in love with it.
“That feeling and the smiles on my parents face and when I got in the car after the game and they were all proud of me, that’s when I just fell in love with the game. With basketball, I loved it automatically because I was always one of the fastest kids. I could never shoot and I could never dribble with my left hand, but I was able to just run by people with my right and that made it fun for me.”
That love has brought Shepard to where he is now. While the goal for Reed is a return to the postseason, Shepard is just enjoying his time in his final season as a Raider.
“We’re just one big family over here,” he said of his bond with his teammates . “Everybody would do anything for anybody. We have each other’s backs. We laugh together. We cry together. It’s just one big family. We love each other. That’s how we are able to come together and do what we can do.”
After graduation, Shepard said he wants to try to play football at a junior college and see how far that will take him. Until then though, he will soak up every moment that he has left with his Reed family members, and so will they.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure,” Hall said of coaching Shepard. “He’s so respectful and he wants to learn and he wants to get better. He just doesn’t take a day off. I can’t think of one day in three years that he has missed a practice. He’s never sick. He’s never hurt. He’s just always there and always ready to work. We’re going to miss him when he’s gone, but I’m glad I have him for another year.”