By Bill Tamburrino
Tori Sheppard epitomizes every cliché. It is not the size of the Bulldog in the fight, it is the size of the fight in the Bulldog. She is a coach on the floor. She is a team leader. She is truly a student/athlete. She is a pleasure to coach. She is what coaching in high school is all about.
For her skill, leadership, hard work, coachability and academic success, Tori Sheppard was selected the 2011 Female Bulldog of the Year.
The Bulldog Award was initiated by coaches. The award goes to the individual who makes coaching a pleasure.
When asked for comments about Sheppard, Coach Erin O’Connor broke out a huge smile. The smile said it all, but O’Connor had nothing but praise for Sheppard.
“She is the greatest! She brings an attitude to every practice and game. It is totally positive and contagious. She works hard but she gives the impression that she is having fun by doing so. She has the same attitude just walking around campus. She is pleasure to be around and is a pleasure to coach. She leads from the front by working hard and by setting an example. She is amazing.”
Sheppard is listed at 5’2 in the program. Programs don’t list the size of the heart. The 2010 Homecoming Queen didn’t get any of the glamour jobs in volleyball or basketball. She was the libero on the volleyball court. The libero is a defensive specialist who can serve and has to set up the other players. She spent as much time diving to the floor as she did on her feet.
Sheppard earned three varsity letters in volleyball. She helped guide the Lady Bulldogs to a CIF championship her junior year and was first team all CIF. Her senior year she earned honorable mention all CIF.
On the basketball court, Sheppard was a point guard who usually got the job of guarding the opponents’ best scorer. Like the volleyball court, she often dove on the floor for loose balls. She was selected second team All Valley League her junior year and was honorable mention All Palomar League her senior year and was the team’s MVP. She earned three varsity letters in basketball.
She earned the Best Defensive Player Award in volleyball and basketball her junior and senior seasons.
Sheppard has been an Associated Student Body leader for the past two years.
“Tori was the vice president of student activities. She is a leader of leaders,” said Mona Snodgrass, Ramona High School ASB adviser. “She may be small in stature, but she always finds a way to overcome every challenge and problem. She was also in my AP (advanced placement) government class and she was a leader in that class too.”
Sheppard earned a 4.6 grade point average and will be attending University of California San Diego in the fall. Her favorite subject is history and she plans on becoming an elementary or high school teacher. She also plans on coaching. At UCSD, she plans on trying out for the club volleyball team.
She said her best experience while competing in sports at RHS was winning the CIF championship in volleyball her junior year. She believes the best aspect about playing sports is meeting friends and staying active. She learned, “Don’t dwell on mistakes. Move on and learn from them.”
Sheppard said that her father and mother, Thomas and Lori, have always been there and have always been supportive and inspirational. “My dad would help me practice my shots in basketball when I first started playing.” She has a sister, Kristin, who just completed ninth grade.
Her advice to incoming freshmen: “Get involved in as much as possible at RHS.” Tori did.