An inspiration on and off the track

Yolanda Shepherd-Reid was named the Northwest Conference 1A women’s indoor Coach of the Year at Winston-Salem Prep.

An inspiration on and off the track
March 07
08:53 2019

Yolanda Shepherd-Reid was named the Women’s Northwest Conference 1A track and field Coach of the Year for the indoor season. That is a great accomplishment, but not her biggest one in the last year. Shepherd-Reid is also a breast cancer survivor, beating the disease in early 2018.

Shepherd-Reid was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2017, causing her to miss the indoor season for that year. Following chemotherapy, radiation and a mastectomy, Shepherd-Reid was finally cancer free and ready to get back to what she loves. The end result was an indoor Northwest Conference championship for her team.

“Me coming back, because of course I was out last year from being diagnosed with breast cancer, it was really a good year,” said Shepherd-Reid. “The girls were loving and listened to everything I had to say and it worked out for us.”

Shepherd-Reid said she looks at all her girls like her daughters, especially since her daughters were former track and field athletes for the Phoenix. Her daughters now run for Campbell University and she strives to get as many of her current runners into college as possible.

The Phoenix are led by Damyja and Dayaneen Ortiz, along with Tamia Johnson, she said. Shepherd-Reid says Johnson and the Ortiz sisters do a great job of keeping the girls motivated. With such a good core of young ladies, Shepherd-Reid is confident about the possibility of capturing the outdoor title as well.

“I am happy with the talent that we have and I think we will do very well in outdoor,” she said.  “We have some girls coming in from basketball who didn’t run in indoor, but they will come out during the spring season.”

When she heard the news about being named the conference coach of the year, Shepherd-Reid says she laughed. “I just thought, ‘Really, me? Why?” she says. She has been coaching at Prep for 12 years and this is her second time winning coach of the year honors. She also won the award two years ago for the outdoor season.

Upon hearing the news of her breast cancer diagnosis, Shepherd-Reid was determined not to let it get her down, she said. “I was determined and I knew it would be a little setback, but I couldn’t let it stop me,” she continued. “I kept going, I was even fussed at a lot because I went back to work right after my surgery. I even worked during my chemo, but I was not able to coach.”

Shepherd-Reid said she is still dealing with the side effects of the chemotherapy due to it staying in your system for up to a year. She says she will not let that stop her from doing what she loves and that is coaching track and field. 

She hopes her story can help other women who are dealing with breast cancer find motivation to keep fighting and not give up.

“I just told God that this is a battle and we are going to fight it together,” she said. Then continued, “I said I would not give up and I didn’t, so I can strongly say my faith got me through.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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