Sports

Future Legend: Freddie Sheppard

BY SYDNEY SNELSON

For many, waking up for school is a struggle. Being up before sunrise is something they only do because they have to. However, Freddie Sheppard does it because he wants to. Starting his day off at 4 a.m., Freddie goes to the gym and runs for about an hour. Afterwards, he sits in the sauna while prepping for one of two workouts he’ll do before the first bell rings. He either goes down to the field and runs drills, or spends time on the mat to perfect his technique. By the time students arrive at school after just waking up, Freddie had successfully completed a full workout and practice. 

Partaking in sports has always been Sheppard’s way of coping. He explained, “Sports are something that hold me together and keep me sane. I’m usually not one to show my emotions, but I battle with some things far greater than injury and not having sports to cope with my problems really put me at a low point.” However, Sheppard’s motivation, fueled by his family, helps him push through. When he was injured earlier this year, it took a toll on him. But his determination to make his family proud helped nurse him back to health. He managed to return to the field by the end of football season, and he is now starting his third wrestling season.

Many see football as Sheppard’s first sport. Maybe it’s due to the higher attendance at FNL than matches, but he did not choose to play football. After watching his cousin’s move on to play Division 1 ball, Sheppard’s family decided he had to be just like them. For almost 10 years, football has filled Sheppard’s schedule, and it has paid off. Although he wants his time on the field to end after high school, he’s made quite the impression. 

Watching Sheppard on the field is nothing short of mesmerizing. The difference between this past season and years prior doesn’t stop at his shedding of 50 pounds to play running back, but includes his sheer determination to leave a mark on Truman’s football program. As head coach, Robert Stough, puts it, “Freddie knows the standard and does everything in his power to meet and exceed that standard every day. Where some of his peers may let a bad day affect a practice or workout, Freddie is the complete opposite. If you want to be successful in life, watch how Freddie goes about his day.” Sheppard has taken on a leadership position, without knowing it, and is excelling.  Coach mentioned that “when Freddie speaks…people listen.” This shows that Sheppard isn’t just a great player, but a great teammate. He is reliable, knowledgeable, and understands the importance of teamwork. Yes, he may be able to score touchdowns with the opposing team latched on his back like he did against Southeast High, but he’s also able to make a play on the spot that isn’t a one man show. His determination to fulfill whatever potential he’s destined to have is unmatched with anyone else in nearby schools. As Coach Stough explained, “I see the world in Freddie. Regardless of athletic ability, anyone with the drive and integrity of a person like Freddie Sheppard will always find themselves in positions to be successful in life.”

Wrestling is Sheppard’s forbidden passion. Although working against his family’s wishes, wrestling has morphed into his main sport, and he wants to go all the way. He now wrestles all year-around, and is expected to compete at state again. “Wrestling has built a foundation in my life the past 5 years, and I feel like I want to do it for the rest of my life,” said Sheppard.

When an athlete can put their all into two sports and be successful in both, it shows true signs of a leader. Boys’ wrestling coach, Levi Goes, explained that Sheppard wasn’t looking to be a leader, but him stepping up to the mat and taking control without being asked shows his dedication and want to fulfill his goals. Although he may not be the most experienced wrestler, “Freddie sets himself apart from other wrestlers due to his discipline. Freddie is disciplined in the way he works at practice, what he eats and how he takes care of his body.  It is very unusual to see a high school athlete act as disciplined as he does,” says Goes. The sky’s the limit with Freddie Sheppard. With a mindset like his anything is possible. 

I didn’t know what to expect with Freddie. On the outside, he’s a closed off kid who’s only focus seems to be working out. I didn’t realize all the thought, sweat, and tears that had gone into the person standing in front of all of us. I knew he worked hard, but I never understood why. I mean, I’ve seen him play. He clearly has a gift, so why break himself down so hard? It wasn’t until I read his responses that I could see the passion bleeding through the paper. Freddie doesn’t only work hard because he has goals, but because he doesn’t want to disappoint. Being a freshman on varsity sparked his love for hard-work. He realized he didn’t want to fall short of what his coaches thought he could be. He wanted to exceed their expectations. Freddie Sheppard is a genuine kid filled with compassion, determination, and love for his family and friends. What may seem like a robotic athlete who eats, sleeps, and breathes sports, is really just a student-athlete hoping to fulfill his potential.  

Categories: Sports

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