The Valley Express recently sat down to get acquainted with Adolph Shepardson, the new athletic director for the Milbank School District.
VE: Why did you pursue the position as AD for Milbank?
Adolph Shepardson: I’ve had an AD degree for over 10 years, but this is the first time I applied for an AD job. The last few years I felt the calling to move out of teaching and into an AD role. I saw this position come open last winter and it was intriguing because I had heard a lot of good things about Milbank. I applied and didn’t have any expectations, but here I am. It was a pleasant surprise.
VE: What is your educational background?
AS: I’m a 1997 high school graduate of Sturgis-Brown High School. We just had our 20-year class reunion. From there I went to South Dakota State University in Brookings and played football for the Jackrabbits. I graduated in the spring of 2002. I got my master’s degree from the University of South Dakota, and was a graduate assistant football coach there for a year and a half while I got my masters.
VE: What is your athletic background?
AS: In high school I was a four-sport athlete. I played football, basketball, track, and baseball. Two times, I was all-conference in basketball, and once in football. I participated in the state track meet four years. We were state champs in the 4×400 when I was a junior. So, we had a lot of success. My junior year in football, we made the state semi-finals but lost to Yankton. When I was in high school, Sturgis was in the midst of 15 straight conference championships in boys track, so we had a lot of accomplishments and had a good run of kids back then. I still hold two track records at Sturgis High School – in the 110 high hurdles and the 4×400 relay. I held the triple jump record, but that has since been broken.
In college, I played all five years of football at SDSU as a wide-receiver. I red-shirted my first year in 1997. I started at receiver my junior and senior years, and played quite a bit as a freshman and sophomore as the backup. I earned the Academic All-Conference honor. I was a 4.0 student in high school, pretty close to that at SDSU, and a 4.0 during my masters program.
VE: What inspired you to become an athletic director?
AS: I think you have to be a little bit crazy to want to do this job. Your time is used up quite a bit, which is fine, because I’m a guy who loves sports and kids. I’m going to be around that a lot because that’s what I love. Also the chance to help kids and coaches do even better. To help them succeed and become great people and leave this place and go on and do great things. Being a teacher and coach, you are helping kids and hopefully helping them get ready for a great future.
VE: Do you have a family?
AS: My wife is Ally, and we have a six-month-old daughter, Stevie. She was born in February. Ally works remotely from home as a project manager for the IT Department of Daktronics.
VE: When did you move to town and begin your new position?
AS: We moved to Milbank June 12. My official start date is August 15, but I’ve been working on things so I didn’t get behind. I helped with football camp the first part of June and have tried to be in and out over the summer to meet some of the kids and coaches. I’m excited to get to know everyone better and start working more with everyone and build those relationships. I look forward to seeing our events happen, seeing teams have success, and have the kids improve. It’s all about the kids.
VE: How do people describe you?
AS: Depends on the person. If you ask my wife, I’m kind of a nerd, goofball sitting at home all the time. Professionally I’m pretty quiet. I’m organized. I work hard at my job. I’m a person that wants to be the best at what I do. That drives me. Some people might describe me as sometimes intense, but for the most part I’m a pretty laid-back guy.
VE: When you aren’t working, what do you enjoy doing?
AS: I love to golf. I’m kind of a jock. I watch sports and go to sporting events. I love following Jacks wrestling, that’s a passion for me. We have a lot of get togethers with family – Sunday meals. I have four brothers and a sister. Pretty much everyone is around the state, so we get to see each other a lot.
VE: You are stepping in to fill Boyd Sussex’s shoes after his long career here. How does that feel?
AS: As you know, Boyd was here 30 some years. But like he told me, ‘I knew what I wanted to fix and what I wanted to change. You are coming from outside the community.’
But I think that is good, too, because I think I bring some ideas and maybe stuff that hasn’t been done here before and new stuff to the table. He had a great career and was very organized. He has helped me quite a bit in the transition. It is big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to it.
VE: Do you have any changes you plan to make right away?
AS: The first year really will be just seeing what’s going on and meeting and getting to know everyone to see where we are at. I have met with quite a few of our fall coaches already, and we have some really good coaches. We have people who are knowledgeable and pretty passionate. That’s good to see.
Strength and conditioning is one big emphasis for next summer. We want to get better at that and increase our program so we can compete with those schools in Sioux Falls who have lots of facilities and opportunities. We need to get sped up to that.
I have put up some social media pages to help communicate with everyone including Twitter and Facebook. I have a lot of ideas that we are going to try to implement, but it’s going to take a few years. This is a great place, it’s a matter of bringing a new perspective in a few areas and hopefully we can take off and get even better.
VE: The theme for this year is MAD (Making A Difference). What prompted that choice?
AS: Meeting with Boyd this spring, I came across that and think that’s a pretty cool thing. That was a tradition I definitely wanted to continue. MAD stands for Making A Difference. For Coach Stiegelmeier, SDSU’s head football coach, that’s a big Stieg-ism. He signs his emails, ‘Stay MAD.’ So, I thought it would be a good way to start this first year – just try to make a difference in everything we do.