By Jenny Gregory
Truett McConnell University has appointed Coach Jenni Shepard to Vice President for Athletics. Since being named Athletic Director for TMU Athletics in April 2018, Shepard has made an enormous impact on the Truett McConnell University campus, earning the respect of her peers.
“Coach Shepard is the quintessential candidate for Vice President of Athletics,” said Dr. Emir Caner, President of Truett McConnell University. “As our Athletic Director over the past three years, she has led our programs into national prominence all-the-while leading our athletic programs to be even more biblically distinctive.”
“Her tireless work ethic and faithful walk with the Lord ensures our student athletics will reach new heights in the realms of academic scholarship, discipleship, and competitiveness. Her visionary leadership will also give TMU the ability to expand into new sports including tennis and life sports,” said Caner.
A native of Toccoa, Ga., Shepard earned her master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
Coach Shepard joined the Truett McConnell family in April 2005 as Head Women’s Softball Coach, which she will continue as Vice President. Coach Shepard became Assistant Athletic Director for Internal Operations in 2010 and Associate Athletic Director in 2016, and she served on numerous internal and AAC committees.
Under Shepard’s tutelage, the Bears have garnered dozens of first team All-Conference, second team All-Conference, All-Freshmen team, All-Defensive team, and All-Conference Tournament Team recipients. In that time, the Bears have been members of the AAC (Appalachian Athletic Conference) – Lady Bears have been rewarded for their classroom success earning accolades such as AAC All-Academic and NAIA Scholar Athletes. During her tenure, Shepard has seen the program grow from an inaugural team, which competed as a junior college, to a NAIA program, which competes as a member of the AAC. The Lady Bears were AAC Championships two out of the last three seasons. Shepard has also led the team to three consecutive trips to the NAIA National Championships. Shepard makes it a priority to be a godly example to her players and coaches in a way that fosters spiritual growth among each individual player.
“I have known and worked with Coach Shepard for 16 years now,” said Coach David McDowell, TMU Women’s Head Soccer Coach. “She is one of the hardest workers I know and is very thorough in what she does. Her leadership style is one that I appreciate, because she trusts those that work for her while challenging us to be better. She is compassionate and a person of high integrity. She will be a tremendous person for this role.”
As new VP for Athletics, Shepard will oversee all coaches, teams, the Bear Club, all game day activities, and all matters that appertain to the administration of the athletics department at Truett McConnell University.
She will serve on the Executive Cabinet and report directly to the President. The Vice President for Athletics is also responsible for ensuring the TMU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has a highly competent and spiritually mature coaching, administrative, and support staff that is consistent with the mission of Truett McConnell University, as well as fostering an environment of success within the department.
“Her servant-leadership, humility, character, and work-ethic evince her strengths which have not gone unnoticed,” Vice President for Academic Services Dr. Brad Reynolds. “These strengths will bless TMU even more as she extends her realm of influence. This is one of those demarcation decisions which will inevitably help to usher in the next level of growth for our beloved university.”
Throughout the years, Coach Shepard has fostered one SSAC all-division team member, 15 NFCA all-academic recipients, 3 NCCAA players of the week, and 5 NCCAA all-region team members.
“When I began my career at TMU,” said Shepard, “I was young (23 years old) and throughout my time here, I have fallen in love with this institution. I have grown personally and in my faith. What I love most about this University is the vision to prepare our students to fulfill the Great Commission by sharing and defending the Gospel.”
“I love the opportunity to interact with and influence the young people of tomorrow in a positive way for Christ,” Shepard added. “I would like to thank Dr. Caner and the Board of Trustees for this opportunity and for believing in me to join the administration. I am excited to continue to develop and grow our athletic programs.”
Shepard is married to Josh, and has 9-year-old twins, Jack and Zoe.