Athletes’ ‘another mom’ retires after 10-year service

About 50 friends and co-workers gathered on the second floor of the John Justin Athletic Center on Wednesday to offer their well-wishes to Donna Shepherd, who has decided to retire after working for athletic academic services for the past 10 years.

Shepherd, who said she is expecting a grandson around Halloween, began her work at the university in March of 1998 and said she has enjoyed her time at the school ever since.

“It’s just time to switch hats,” she said. “But it’s been a wonderful 10-year experience,” Shepherd said.

Shepherd said she was touched by the presence of her co-workers, friends and former and current students at the farewell reception.

“It was fabulous,” Shepherd said. “It was more than what I expected.”

Associate athletics director Jack Hesselbrock began the reception with a few words about Shepherd, who worked as an office manager for athletic academic services.

“She’s been very special. She always will be,” Hesselbrock said. “She’ll always be a Horned Frog.”

Shepherd’s boss followed with words of his own.

“One of the things that Donna’s taught us is how to develop relationships with the student-athletes, and I know that’s why we’re all here,” said Chris Uchacz, director of athletic academic services.

Melinda Rubenkoenig, TCU administrative assistant and Shepherd’s friend since third grade, said she knew Shepherd would be perfect for the job when she heard about the open position 10 years ago.

“I’m sad for TCU,” said Rubenkoenig. “I’m sad for the athletes at TCU to be losing her as a mother figure and as someone who really cares.”

Shepherd touched the lives of a countless number of student athletes during her time at TCU.

“She means a lot – she was like another mom to me,” said Robert Merrill, former TCU running back and ’06 graduate. “She’s always been there. If I had trouble with school or just personal things, Donna was always there.”

Shepherd’s retirement is well deserved, Merrill said. Friday will be Shepherd’s last day at TCU.

Shepherd said she will never forget the students she helped during her time at TCU.

“You could have the most stressful day, and some kid is going to come in there and just crack you up,” Shepherd said. “There was always something going on.”

A TCU rocking chair, sports memorabilia signed by various TCU teams and other gifts lined the back wall – evidence of the respect Shepherd earned from every person she came in contact with during her time at TCU.

Jordan Schultz, sophomore business major and daughter of football coach Mike Schultz, described what Shepherd was like to student-athletes.

“She’s like a cross between Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman. She does everything kind of all-in-one.”