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Sam Shepard | Faces of Midland


Faith, Family, and Basketball

Basketball is more than a game to Sam Shepard and her family – it’s a way of life.

Faith, family, and basketball are three core pillars in Shepard’s life and a major reason why she came back to Midland University for a fifth year. “Family is so important to me. I told my youngest sister (Sara) that if she came to Midland, I would stay for a fifth year so we could all play together on the basketball team.”

An Elementary Education major, Sam joined younger siblings Emma and Sara on the Warrior team this past season, making memories she won’t soon forget. “In all our years of playing basketball, we’ve never been on the same team together. It was one of the most memorable basketball seasons I’ve ever had.”

The love of basketball has driven Sam, and her family, for generations. Her grandfather, dad, and uncles all played and coached the game, while two of her two older siblings (Taylor and Clayton) both played at Midland and currently serve as basketball coaches at West Point-Beemer and Cambridge, respectively. Her older sister, Jess, is a member of the Minnesota Lynx in the WNBA and also plays professionally in Venice, Italy. Jess was part of a national championship team while at Notre Dame.

“Growing up, we were encouraged to focus on one sport, and I think we all naturally fell in love with basketball. We were pretty competitive growing up, which we get from my mom, and the games in the driveway would usually end with someone crying. Basketball has taught me so much, and I’ve enjoyed that part of my life. I still don’t know if coaching is in my future, but I do know that basketball will never leave my life.”

Basketball has also provided Sam with a platform to share her faith with others through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group on campus. “My main goal of being part of a team is to be a light for the Lord. I’ve served as president of FCA, and I love seeing my teammates at the meetings and talking with them about their faith. Those are friendships that will last forever, and you’ll remember the people much more than you’ll remember the wins and losses. I’ve seen FCA grow so much over the years, and I’ve seen how the Lord continues to have an impact on campus.”

Sam’s road to Midland was influenced by having two older siblings on campus. “I always said I wanted to get out of Fremont and wouldn’t go to Midland. We were always on campus watching Taylor and Clayton, and after I took my own visit, it felt like home, and I knew this was where I needed to be. I love the Midland community, and being able to be close to my family has been very important to me.”

A new chapter awaits Sam as she begins her career as a kindergarten teacher at Douglas County West in the fall. Much like basketball, teaching has been a pivotal part of the Shepard family as Sam continues in a long line of educators. “I have wanted to be a teacher since I was five years old, playing pretend school in the basement. It runs in our blood, and it’s always been a passion of mine. I’m looking forward to getting to know kids and their unique personalities and building those relationships. It takes a high-energy person to teach kindergarten, but I’m ready for it!”

As she nears graduation, Sam is grateful for the opportunities that came her way at Midland, whether in the classroom, on the basketball court, or across campus. “I’ve met a great community of people at Midland. I’m excited for graduation and for the next chapter in my life, but I don’t want to take all the great experiences I’ve had for granted.”

Sam Shepard is an Elementary Education major from Fremont, Nebraska. To share your story or nominate a friend, email or post using #FacesofMidland.

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