Shad Sheffie had never touched a wrestling mat in his life until he stepped onto St. Michael High School’s campus. At the time as a freshman, he did not realize the choice he made would turn him into a two-time Louisiana State Champion.
Entering high school, Sheffie’s mom encouraged him to continue with athletics. Torn between football and wrestling (the latter which he had never tried before), Sheffie went with the newly discovered sport. “I just wanted to give it a try,” he shares. “There was no real reason behind it at the time. The coaches talked to me, and I decided to do it.”
Sheffie’s mom, Kimberly, says that it was important to her that her son participate in athletics for numerous reasons. “I felt as if he needed to continue to become a well-rounded student in high school. I wanted him to have that exposure to new people and new activities,” she explains. Little did she know that after two short years, her son’s hard work would pay off on the mats. “I am not surprised. He believes in discipline and character,” she says. “Shad is a non-vocal leader whose work ethic speaks for itself. He believes that prayer, hard work, and dedication will always see you through any obstacle or situation.”
Despite his championship titles as an upperclassman, training did not come easily for Sheffie his first year. He was not in wrestling condition and did not know a thing about the sport. “He could barely bench press the bar and could only do a few pushups and pullups,” shares Head Wrestling Coach Mark Harter. “To see the athlete he has become is astonishing.” According to Coach Harter though, this is standard for newbies. All beginner wrestlers start out taking a beating in competition until they can catch up with the skill set, body awareness and develop strength and conditioning. This stood true for Sheffie, but once he caught up, he surpassed most.
“Everyone keeps saying that I am gifted, but I would not say that…I am just competitive. I wanted to do my best and win every time I was at a match,” explains Sheffie humbly. “My mindset going into a match – everyone says I look calm – but I am there to take the other person down no matter what. Wrestling has pushed me to my limits, and I like that. In that third period everyone is exhausted but it comes down to whoever has the better mindset and the better technique,” he shares.
Sheffie holds two State Championship titles: one in the 170 lb. weight class (junior year) and the other in the 182 lb. weight class (senior year). During his senior year, he remained undefeated throughout the season. He has also been named to the 1st Team All-Metro. Sheffie credits his coaches for showing him how to grow as an athlete and helping him capture two state championship titles during his high school career. “Coach Galasso and Coach Harter have been incredible influences. Coach Harter, he is like a dad to me. He encourages us but in a quiet way. He gives us the resources and then it is up to us to follow through. And I have followed everything to a T.”
Coach Harter can attest that Sheffie’s work ethic and mindset make him a standout State Champion. “Shad was always staying a few minutes after practice doing pullups and extra work. He did not get frustrated and give up just because he was not great at wrestling in the beginning. He kept a positive attitude and built the layers of skill and strength overtime. He became unafraid to push himself into that ‘red line’ area,” he explains. Coach Harter says he really noticed the turning point for Sheffie during his sophomore year when he placed 5th at the State Tournament. “His potential to be very good was recognized and this success catapulted him forward with a new confidence and determination to achieve his goal of becoming a State Champion.”
Sheffie’s physical skill, work ethic and athletic build are only part of the qualities that turned him into a champion quickly. Humbleness and selfless service are also at the heart of how he trains and how he lives. “Shad spent 40% of his time working with newer wrestlers in sharing knowledge and helping them improve,” shares Coach Harter. “He could easily have been very selfish and spent every moment in the wrestling room honing his own skills. He has contributed greatly to the development of our newer wrestlers. Shad is very humble with his accomplishments, and because he has been on the other side of it, he has an appreciation for the opponent he defeats.”
Sheffie’s tough mindset and commendable qualities will bode well for him in his future endeavors. Immediately following graduation, he departs to Fort Benning, GA where he will become part of the 11X Infantry in the United States Army. “Since I was young, I always knew I wanted to become part of the military. I like the mindset of it. I will be part of the 11X Infantry, and I am also going to be fast tracked into the special forces program called the 75th Ranger Regiment. I have been busy preparing for that so that I can meet all the physical training standards.”
According to Kimberly, her son has always been interested in service-oriented careers. “For Career Day in Pre-K during Chief Jeff LeDuff’s tenure, he dressed up as a Police Officer. He also went through an FBI spy phase where he would set traps for the family using his ‘Spy Gear for Kids’ toys. He has always expressed an interest in directly serving the public,” she shares. “Toward the end of his junior year is when he firmly decided on a career in the military. After extensive research of the different military branches and the opportunities available through each, he decided the Army was his branch of choice.”
Meanwhile, Sheffie continues to enjoy the last few weeks of his senior year and prepare himself mentally and physically for his departure to Fort Benning.