Possessing a rare attitude to succeed, sports prospect Owen Sheppard battles for greatness on and off the soccer field
Owen Sheppard of St. John’s is making a name for himself on the soccer field. At age 16, he was a member of the Holy Cross Crusaders team that won the Challenge Cup this year.
The win took the Crusaders to Saskatoon to represent the Newfoundland and Labrador Soccer Association (NLSA) at the Nationals. Sheppard was the youngest player at the Nationals.
“I practiced with the team in May and they let me play a few games with them. I was earning my time,” he said during a phone interview.
In naming Sheppard as its Youth Player of the Month for July 2018, the NLSA described the teen as “a lightning quick winger who is taking his game to a new level in 2018.”
“His attacking play was pivotal for the NLSA Boys Under-16 provincial team who captured the Atlantic Championship in Halifax (in July). He is the current leading scorer in the BU-17 Premier Youth League with ten goals,” the association wrote on its website. (Sheppard’s NL team also took gold in the Atlantic Championship in 2017).
A Whole New Level
Sheppard is indeed taking his game to a new level. He has been invited to a Whitecaps High Potential Prospects Academy Training Camp in Vancouver, Nov. 11-16, and set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money to cover his expenses.
“For the past two years I have been attending the Whitecaps Academy Prospect Program in Newfoundland, but now I have been given a greater opportunity to achieve my goals and become a soccer player,” Sheppard said on his fundraising page.
Going to the training camp in Vancouver would be an experience of a lifetime, he said.
“Not only will I be getting to train with my age group, but because I will be 17 in March (2019) the Whitecaps have decided I can practice with the under 17 Whitecaps team,” he said.
Sheppard faces challenges head on – both on and off the field. Despite being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago, he continues to take an “if you want something in life you go for it and don’t let anything stand in your way” attitude when working towards his goals.
Sheppard began playing soccer at age six or seven. He was living with his family in Brooks, Alberta at the time.
“I wanted to join the Timbits soccer house league and from there I knew that this was my sport, so by the age of nine I was playing competitive with Grasslands Soccer Club,” he recalled.
He returned to his home province (and the St. John’s area) with his family at age 12.
“Since moving back here I started to get more competitive.”
Sheppard has been playing with the St. John’s Soccer Club for the past three years. During this time his age groups won provincials in 2016 and 2017, taking them to Nationals in New Brunswick and Alberta.
“This year we finished in second place, but I was the top goal scorer,” he said.
Sheppard said his parents – Jennifer and Dwayne – have been very supportive about his passion for the sport. He has gone from playing soccer for fun as a child to realizing that he has the potential to do well in the sport as a teen and adult.
Sheppard would like to thank family and friends and everyone else who has contributed to his fundraising efforts. He has raised over $1,000 of his $3,000 goal.
“To see how far I can go in the sport means a lot to me. And I want to make the most out of these big opportunities. So, to get to Vancouver means a lot to me,” he said.
To contribute to Owen Sheppard’s trip visit www.gofundme.com/my-soccer-journey