Whittell student Jenny Shepack assumed the worst when she came off the soccer field to a voicemail from her dad saying she needed to call home.
“The first thing I thought was it was bad news,” Shepack said.
That fear, however, quickly turned to disbelief when she discovered she had won the Gene Upshaw Scholarship.
“I didn’t think I was going to win it, and it was like a week before so I figured someone else had already won it,” Shepack said.
Nope, it was just Shepack who was awarded the fourth annual Gene Upshaw Scholarship Award at this year’s American Century Championship.
The Gene Upshaw Scholarship was initiated in memory of NFL Hall of Famer and longtime NFLPA Executive Director Gene Upshaw, the scholarship is valued at $5,000. The scholarship is awarded to individuals who show strong leadership, community service, and academic excellence.
“Jenny just stuck out in my mind... She was just so well balanced in athletics, academics, in what she did in the community that she was deserving of it,” said Gary Quinn, vice president of programming for NBC Sports.
Quinn, as well as other members of the selection committee, were at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course on Sunday to present Jennifer Shepack with the award.
“It’s such an honor to be linked with Mr. Upshaw. He was an amazing player and really played for the team,” Shepack said. “He wasn’t just all about himself. He was very selfless, and not just on the field but off the field. And I just want to strive to be like that.”
Shepack is already well on her way. In her junior year, she maintained straight As, with a 1630 SAT score. She is a standout soccer and basketball player as well as dedicated community volunteer.
As she heads into her senior year, Shepack isn’t sure which college she will attend, but there’s no doubt the scholarshihp will go to good use.
“I’ve been looking at UC San Diego or somewhere in Southern California,” Shepack said. “I’d love to go to the beach or somewhere warm.”
Terri Upshaw, Gene’s widow, was also at the ACC on Sunday to present Shepack with the award.
“Gene would be extremely proud to have his named linked to this scholarship,” said Mrs. Upshaw. “Gene was not just about accomplishments, not for himself at all, it was about those around him, for the betterment of the game and families.”