TC's Roe, Sheppard accept college offers

By Anne Griffis
Special to the Times

TUBA CITY, May 3, 2012

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(Courtesy photo)

Tuba City High runners Mathew Murray, Kailee Birdinground and Natalie Franklin are ready to take their running to the college level.

Tesalands Community College from Tucumcari, N.M., continues to have a stranglehold in the standings in wo outstanding senior Tuba City High School Lady Warriors basketball players have accepted athletic scholarships from Arizona colleges.

Team captain Jamie Roe has signed with Central Arizona College, while her teammate Vernene Sheppard accepted an offer from Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

This past season, Roe helped the Lady Warriors reach the Division III final four. Tuba City lost to Winslow in the last second of overtime with Roe shooting the last shot as the buzzer sounded, only to watch the ball circle inside the rim and pop back out.

Roe explained her decision to sign with the CAC Vaqueras.

"The program has a lot of tradition and expectations," she said. "They make it to the final four on nationals every year."

The coach, Denise "Gooch" Cardenas, is intense, according to Roe. In 2009, Cardenas' first year as head coach, the team had a perfect season and won the National Junior College Athletic Association national championship.

"She has put together a good team," Roe said. "They have quickness, strength, height, and unselfishness. They are more focused on the team than being standouts.

"The team is very accepting of me," she said. "After tryouts, the point guard texted 'the girls all want you here.'"

Roe was invited to Northern Arizona University, a Division I school, but declined because only a partial scholarship was offered that would have covered tuition, but not room and board.

"I didn't want to put the financial burden on my parents," Roe said.

Her parents - James Roe, girls basketball coach for the past two years, and Sandy Roe, special education services director for the school district - supported her decision to start out at CAC.

The two-year program offers a full-ride scholarship. Roe believes her chances are good at the end of her sophomore year for transferring from CAC to a Division I school.

Undecided about her major, Roe plans to take a lot of science courses. She's leaning toward pharmacy but wants to learn more about other career options.

Sheppard has accepted a basketball scholarship from Division 2 Chandler-Gilbert Community College.

Sheppard was the Lady Warriors guard who shot a 3-pointer in the last 1.9 seconds of the season's final four game against Winslow, sending it into overtime.

"I perform well under pressure," she said.

Sheppard explained her decision to sign with the CGCC Coyotes.

"They've been watching me since the beginning of the season," she said. "Head coach Cassandra Yancy herself came to the games. She invited me to a showcase tryout. There were 30 other girls from Division I high schools all over the state. Only five of us made it onto the team."

Sheppard said of Yancy, "She chose wisely. She recruited Celeste Claw - Boca - from Page, and a girl from White river."

(It is not unconfirmed whether Boca accepted the offer.)

The team is tall, competitive, and strong, according to Sheppard, who at 5'3" is the shortest member.

"They encourage their players to all think as one," she said.

Sheppard received offers from colleges in other states, including New York and Nevada, but didn't want go far away from her family. She is the first in the immediate family to go to college.

Sheppard is hoping for an offer from the University of Arizona at the conclusion of her two-year program at Chandler-Gilbert.

She plans to enter the nursing program, with the objective of pursuing pediatric medicine down the road.

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