Two years ago, the possibility of earning a track scholarship wasn’t even a thought for Shelby Shepard.
In fact, the Heritage Hall athlete had given up the sport, playing soccer instead.
But she returned to track last year and won the long jump in three meets—including the Class 4A state meet, where she jumped 17-feet, 33/4 inches to win by one-fourth of an inch.
The success of her junior year inspired Shepard to pursue the potential college possibilities as a track athlete, and her hard work through last spring and summer delivered that opportunity at Oral Roberts, where she signed in February.
“I’m so excited for the next level,” said Shepard, the sister of Oklahoma football player Sterling Shepard. “ORU was my first Division I offer, and when I went to visit, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.
“I’m excited for the direction of the program, seeing who we’re going to have up there. They’re doing a really great job.”
Like all track athletes, her season was hampered early by poor weather that prevented much on-track practice. Now that the weather is improving, Shepard is working to build back up to the 17-foot range on her jumps.
“I was sticking in the weight room a lot, working on it in there because it had been so cold,” she said. “We’ll see how the season goes. It’s been good, but I’m hoping to improve. I really feel great about this year so far.”
In the last couple of years, ORU has landed some talented athletes from the Oklahoma City area, particularly sprinters Madison Reynolds of Douglass and Kirsten Burnett of Deer Creek.
And the program has snagged some top in-state talent on the boys side as well — including one of Shepard’s teammates, sprinter Domonique James, who runs the 200 and 400 meters.
“ORU is a great school, academically and athletically,” James said. “I feel like I can really accomplish something while I’m there.”