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Western High School’s Chad Shepherd Wins 2023 IndianaMat 2A Coach of the Year

Writer & Photographer / Natalie Platt

It almost makes too much sense that Chad Shepherd has won the 2023 IndianaMat 2A Coach of the Year award, in his 23rd year of coaching at Western High School. His resume while at Western is a highlight reel of what most coaches only dream of – a 2A team state duals championship, a sectional championship, Hoosier Conference championships (six consecutive years), and the seventh consecutive year with at least one state qualifier, during nine out of the last 10 years.

To top it off, Shepherd had his first girls state qualifiers (four), and first-ever girls state place winner (third) in Kyndal Mellady. The girls wrestling team is off to an excellent start, with 10 members of the team at the high school level and around 20 members in lower grades. With interest building, Shepherd is confident the girls program is off to a great start and will continue to grow. Coach Shepherd

“Now I am coaching men and women, and just being able to watch these young kids grow and go on to become successful people after high school is very rewarding,” Shepherd says.

Shepherd’s career had a stop at Carroll High School, where he spent three seasons as the head wrestling coach and two seasons as an assistant football coach. After leaving Carroll, Shepherd continued the rest of his career with Western High School, where he also helps coach the club wrestling team and football.

His success was built upon a strong foundation of wrestling coaches before him. Shepherd wrestled for Hall of Fame Coach Bob Jarrett, and spent one season as a volunteer coach at Lafayette Jefferson with Coach Bill Andrews.

“Coach Andrews left a positive impression on me for the way he ran his program,” Shepherd says. “I also spent one season volunteering under Brett Colby at Frankfort High School, which led to me coaching at Carroll. I would say being around an extremely successful group of coaches that have undoubtedly left an impression on me was the best form of mentorship. I have been very fortunate over the last 26 years to be able to surround myself with coaches that not only care about the sport, but also care about the kids.”Coach Shepherd

Shepherd hopes to leave the same impression on the kids he coaches.

“I just want them to see that if you work hard and commit yourself to something, you can do anything,” he says. “For every person it isn’t always about winning championships. Sometimes it is just about finishing the game.”

And seeing the kids he coaches grow and come up through the wrestling program is what keeps Shepherd coming back, year after year.

“Kids want to be acknowledged, kids want to learn and kids want to know you care,” he says.

Two of Shepherd’s own children wrestled in high school, surely learning from their father – Donavan, who now plays baseball at Marian University, and Hayden, who wrestles for Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. His youngest two, Dake and Summitt, both wrestle for the club team.

When Shepherd talks about what he is most proud of and how he got here, he is quick to credit his family.Coach Shepherd

“It is by no means a one-man show,” he says. “The support I get from my wife, Cheyenne, my kids and the rest of my family has been a huge blessing. It takes a village and the Western wrestling program has been lucky to have so many great people involved. The coaches, athletes and community involvement are what makes it so much like a family environment. It has been a wonderful experience to be around so many terrific people.”

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