By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Two years ago, Jackie Shepherd decided she wanted to do something that no other Madison Southern High School volleyball player had ever accomplished.
When she told her coach of her plans, he had absolutely no doubt that she would achieve her goal.
“She was involved in some other activities, but she said that she wanted to do everything she could do to play college volleyball,” Southern coach Jeremy Grant said. “She’s the type of kid who when she sets her mind to something, she’s going to realize (that goal) or she’s going to give everything she’s get in that pursuit.”
On Friday, Shepherd became the first-ever Southern volleyball player to earn a college scholarship when she signed with the University of the Cumberlands.
The Madison Southern senior was also considering Lindsey Wilson College and Centre College.
“I feel really honored,” Shepherd said. “We are trying to build a program and I know that I can be a good role model for the younger girls. They can look up to me and that makes me feel good.”
Shepherd has been a key member of the Southern volleyball team for the past three seasons.
She led the team in kills and blocks in each of the past two seasons and as a senior she had 208 kills and 105 blocks.
She finished her career second on the school’s all-time kills list (476) and third on the blocks list (105).
Following her senior season, Shepherd was named a Second-Team Class AA All-State selection by the Kentucky Volleyball Coaches Association.
She is the first-ever Southern volleyball player to earn all-state honors.
As a senior, Shepherd helped the Lady Eagles win 14 games this season, the third-most in school history, and led the team to a district runner-up finish.
Shepherd has played a big role in the recent success of the Southern program and is also helping build the future of volleyball in Madison County.
Last season, the senior, along with other teammates, worked extensively with the Ferristown Middle School volleyball team.
“One of the things I wanted to do with the middle school programs was to get some of our kids out there and have the older girls work with them so they can see how we do things,” Grant said. “We wanted them to be positive role models.”
Shepherd was a member of the Southern cheerleading squad as a freshman and sophomore, but turned her focus exclusively to volleyball two years ago.
The 5-foot-10 senior played most at middle blocker the past couple of seasons, but will likely be moved full-time to outside hitter in college.
“I’m pretty excited to change positions because in my sophomore year a senior (outside hitter) got hurt and I took her position,” Shepherd said. “I just felt I was a lot better at it because of my height.”