Sports Spotlight - Mike Sheppard

By Brendan O'Reilly

July 22, 2010 Updated Jul 16, 2007 at 2:58 PM EDT

As a seventh grader Mike Sheppard found out that as a swimmer, he made a really good diver.
" And my coach mentioned that I used to do gymnastics," says Mike. "I did it from around four until I was 10 years old, so he just said I should try it out. I wasn't too good at first but then I ended up winning the STAC meet in 7th grade and I went to varsity the next year."
Now as a senior, any goals he could have set at the local level are long since eclipsed.
If he breaks a school record, it already belonged to him.
Pool record, most likely his as well.
In fact just about any section 4 record has his name attached.
But rather than coast through to his 5th state meet, Mike set out to get better last summer.
" He went out to Indiana for 2 or 3 weeks out there. When he came back for pre-season he was already a level ahead of where he was last year," says coach Jason Mooney.
" Now it's just all about beating myself," Mike says. " I'm my own competition right now, I'm not really worried about anything else. I just want to get my high scores and records, and I definitely want to keep practicing, I still have a lot of improvement I can make."
Improvement at this stage comes from fundamentals, watching his footwork on video replay, seeing how high his jumps get, and suprisingly, with all these gymnastic twists and turns, success comes from patience.
" Sometimes I get aggressive up there. I try to throw as hard as I can, but it's all about waiting for the board to ride you. The longer you ride it the higher you're going to get in the air and the more chance you're going to have to make those flips around. Patience is definitely the key."
His varsity career has never been patient, starting as an 8th grader, but Mike is just working and waiting for his next record to fall.

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