Leake Academy’s Phil Shepard was inducted into the Mississippi Independent Schools Association’s Hall of Fame Saturday night in Pearl.
Leake Academy’s Phil Shepard was inducted into the Mississippi Independent Schools Association’s Hall of Fame Saturday night in Pearl.

Longtime Leake Academy basketball coach Phil Shepard was inducted into the Mississippi Independent Schools Association’s Hall of Fame Saturday, during a dinner at the Hinds Community College campus in Pearl.

“My dad (Joe Shepard) was inducted into the first Hall of Fame class in 2002,” Shepard said. “When they called and told me I would be going into the Hall of Fame, I was overwhelmed. It’s the greatest honor I have ever received.”

Shepard grew up in Carthage and attended Leake Academy where he played basketball. After graduation, he went on to graduate from East Central Community College and later Delta State University in 1981.

After graduation, he began his coaching career at Brandon Academy for one year. He went on to coach at Jackson Academy where he was an assistant football coach and head boys basketball and track coach. In 1986, he was the North AAA coach of the year.

Shepard returned to Leake Academy in 1986 as head basketball coach. In his years at Leake Academy, he led the Rebels to five state championships and 11 state finals. He has been honored as coach of the year numerous times and has been an all-star coach four times.

“I still like what I do,” Shepard said. “We are starting teachers meetings Monday and I am looking forward to it. As long as my health is good and I enjoy it, I am going to keep on coaching.”



Shepard said he has enjoyed his association with fellow coaches and teachers and his players.

“I can’t start naming names because I would leave someone out,” Shepard said. “Over the years, I have had so many great players. Each senior class is different.

“If you want to coach basketball, Leake Academy is the place to do it. The people support it and there is always a good crowd,” Shepard said.

The night was also special because Shepard went into the Hall of Fame with a former colleague, the late Sherard Shaw. Shaw and Shepard coached together at Brandon Academy and Jackson Academy. In 1995, Shaw’s Jackson Academy team won the state championship three weeks after his passing to cancer.

Those also going into the Hall of Fame were as follows:

- Gene Britt, a longtime basketball coach at Brookhaven Academy;

- Melanie Moore, an outstanding basketball player at Pillow Academy whose team won three straight state championships and won 100 games in a row during the early 1970s; and,

- Ricky Weiss, a longtime football coach and administrator at Clarksdale Lee.