Cary Shepherd had plenty of players honored in her time as New Hope High School softball coach.
The honors earned by her players often required her to accompany them to Jackson, where they would be recognized. On those trips, Shepherd and the players had time to roam the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum and look at all of the pictures of the greats who have helped shape the state”s sports scene.
One picture caught Shepherd”s attention.
Shepherd remembers seeing a picture of Bill Brumley, her second cousin, who was inducted into the Mississippi Association of Coaches Hall of Fame in 1993. Brumley, who was from Columbus, was a longtime coach and official for high school athletics.
When Shepherd saw Brumley”s picture, she thought it would be neat if someday she could be up there with Brumley to make it doubly sweet for her family.
Shepherd won”t have to wait much longer.
On Wednesday, Shepherd was announced as one of five inductees to the MAC Hall of Fame. The longtime New Hope High School softball coach will be recognized in a ceremony next summer in Jackson.
“I guess it is going to happen,” Shepherd said of her opportunity to join Brumley. “I am so very, very overwhelmed at the thought that this could happen to me. It is just unbelievable.”
Shepherd never intended to be a coach who made history. But her willingness to work with softball players when the school needed a coach turned into a family building endeavor that has shaped one of the state”s top softball programs. From 1982-2006, Shepherd won nine state titles and laid the foundation for years of excellence in slow- and fast-pitch softball.
Shepherd credits her husband, Roscoe, and coaches like Kathi Coleman and Wayne Ellis for helping her build a program. She said her husband did much of the work that built the two fields the softball teams played on and many of the amenities that the program uses today.
Shepherd said it wouldn”t have been possible to develop such a tradition without the help of countless players, coaches, parents, and volunteers who shared her love of New Hope and softball.
“All of the people who have been through the program had something to do with helping it be one of the best around,” Shepherd said. “I am so proud to be the recipient of this award. At the same time, there are hundreds of people who have made it all possible, and all of them need to be recognized.”
Shepherd will have plenty of time to craft a speech that mentions as many names as possible in her allotted time. By then, the surprise of being honored will have worn off and Shepherd can tell everyone who doesn”t know what a special time she had in shaping the lives of young women.
“It really has been something special,” Shepherd said. “The thing that has made it so very special to me is the number of people who have been involved.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.