The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


Humans of Athens Drive: Ava Sheppard

Ava Sheppard squaring up to take a foul shot. She channels all focus on the ball and makes bags the basket. (Photo courtesy of Lauryn Webb)

You can usually find Ava Sheppard dribbling across the court with the Athens Drive Basketball team. But this season, things took a shift in the wrong direction. 


Sheppard is a junior at Athens Drive High School, and has been on the varsity basketball team since her freshman year. She loves having a second family through the sport, and has a passion for competition.


“I’ve been playing since first grade; I played in a Church league and then started playing for my middle school team, Dillard Drive, from seventh grade till now at Athens,” said Sheppard.


Sheppard is a team player and loves connecting with her teammates and coaches. She had managed to stay uninjured throughout her whole basketball career, until Nov. 17, 2023. 


The day of the incident the women’s varsity basketball team was at practice, playing a scrimmage against the JV boys. Sheppard was on defense, and a player for the boy’s team was posting up about to shoot. As Sheppard started guarding him, the player pumped into her right leg, which disrupted her left knee.


“It felt like it shifted out for a second and then it went back in,” said Sheppard.


Feeling a shift in your knee never means anything good, so Sheppard limped off the court and headed to Phil, Athens Drive’s athletic trainer. Sheppard was advised to skip the game the next day and take two weeks off of basketball to let her injury heal. But by two weeks her knee’s condition hadn’t changed, so she decided to visit the doctor.


“Initially I just did x-rays and the doctor told me I had to strengthen my leg, so for a week I worked on strengthening it in physical therapy. And then the next game I went in and it popped out immediately,” said Sheppard.


Thankfully she had an MRI scheduled a couple of days after the game, so over Christmas break the results came in.


“The full diagnosis is an ACL tear, partial MCL tear, and partial MPFL tear. I’m getting surgery on the 25th of January and the recovery process is about nine months. I should be back in time to start practicing for senior season,” said Sheppard.


The women’s varsity basketball team photo. Ava Sheppard is number 22. (Photo courtesy of Lauryn Webb)

Senior season is an important year for those graduating while playing a sport. Players are often chosen to be a team captain, and the memories made as a senior last a lifetime. As a newly injured junior, Sheppard still focuses on being a team player as much as possible, even if it’s just from the stands. 


“Honestly not being able to play is the hardest part; I just have to sit there and watch as much as I want to go out there and play. I go to all the games, and I try to make it to all the practices, to be there for the team,” said Sheppard.


Though Sheppard was faced with a very challenging situation, she has managed to keep a positive outlook on her junior year. If she can’t be on the court, she will surely be in the stands cheering for her teammates, never leaving their sides. 


“I feel like the team is much closer this year than we were in previous years. It’s just fun to be together and I really like getting to continue hanging out with them throughout the whole season,” said Sheppard.

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