The hiring of Mark Shepard as the Fremont Public Schools superintendent will come with an added benefit for Fremont High School — one of the top girls basketball players in the state.
Shepard confirmed Monday that his daughter Jessica, a sophomore at Lincoln Southeast, will play next season for the Tigers. Jessica, a 6-foot-3 forward, averaged 24.4 points and 10.5 rebounds this past season while leading the Knights to the Class A title.
“She’ll be playing for Fremont,” Mark Shepard said. “Four of our children were born there so it will be like going home for us.”
The Shepard family moved from Fremont to Lincoln five years ago. Mark Shepard had been the Lincoln Public Schools associate superintendent of business affairs but was unanimously approved two weeks ago by the Fremont Board of Education as its next superintendent.
Before taking the job in Lincoln, he was an assistant superintendent in Fremont.
Shepard will begin work in Fremont on July 1, contingent on the Lincoln Board of Education releasing him from his contract. He’ll officially take over as superintendent in 2014 when current superintendent Steve Sexton retires after the 2013-14 school year.
Jessica Shepard, a Nebraska recruit, was named a first-team All-Nebraska selection as a freshman after helping Southeast finish as the state runner-up. The Knights went 24-3 during her sophomore season and captured the school’s 10th state title.
“She’s fine with the move,” Mark Shepard said. “We’re a family and we do everything together, and this is just one more thing.”
He added that the family has spoken with Southeast coach Kara Graham about Jessica’s transfer to Fremont High.
“Coach Graham has been very supportive and very positive,” Mark Shepard said. “She knew that this was going to be a possibility.”
Graham said she understood the situation but added it will be difficult to see the forward leave.
“I think Jessica is probably the best player in the state,” she said. “But we’re ready to move on and I wish her well.”
Jessica said she has come to realize her Southeast basketball career is over.
“I’m OK with it,” she said. “I played with a lot of those (Fremont) girls when I was little so I don’t think it will be a very tough transition.”
Jessica added that she was happy to have been a part of the Knights’ recent state title before leaving.
“I’m not sure if it’s easier or harder to leave after something like that,” she said. “I just know it’s going to be time to move on.”
One thing that won’t change is the color of Shepard’s uniform. Both Southeast and Fremont have the same school colors — black and gold.
The schools also compete in the same conference, the Heartland Athletic. The Tigers went 8-16 last season, with two of those losses (58-31 on Dec. 29 and 77-35 on Jan. 5) coming against the Knights.
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