In just her junior year, Sydney Shelstead a 6’1″ forward from Mineral Wells ranked in the Southland Conference top 10 in five categories: rebounding, offensive and defensive rebounds, field-goal percentage and blocks. She also hit 1000 career points and over 400 in the season alone.
And with six games remaining in her playing career, Shelstead has scored nearly 1300 points and has solidified herself as one of the most prolific rebounders in the conference over the last two years. In fact, she is third in the conference this season at 9.2 rebounds per game, and just shy of averaging a double-double with her 12 points per game.
But as involved as Shelstead is on the boards, she’s just as involved off the court. As an engineering major from Mineral Wells, Shelstead is the president of the Engineering Students Association, an inactive member of TKG, a teacher’s assistant, a grader for the Department of Engineering and Physics and was even a member of the track team for two years.
Shelstead said the hardest thing to learn is time management. Because basketball is so demanding, she had to figure out how to juggle her priorities to accomplish everything that she needed to do. But despite that challenge, she said it has become an easy component of her life to incorporate.
Women’s basketball head coach Julie Goodenough agreed and said Shelstead excels in every aspect of her life because of her self-motivation and desire to be better than average.
“She has learned how to be very organized,” Goodenough said. “She’s a great time-manager because of the great time demands she’s had on her as a basketball player. She has to manage what we ask of her and also be successful as a student. She is a very hard worker and very committed to her goals.”
Not only has Shelstead grown in her academic skills, but has also led the people around her through her faith.
“Basketball has really incorporated doing everything you can for God and showing Jesus through yourself,” Shelstead said. “You aren’t necessarily having to profess the gospel and tell everyone you’re a Christian, its that you show them by example.”
Faith for Shelstead is the basis of leadership. Being able to serve people is a large component of being an effective leader. She said it requires listening, leading by example and being the best version of yourself you can be.
“Sydney has innate leadership characteristics and you can see her using that gift, not just on our team but around campus,” Goodenough said. “I think she was just born with innate leadership traits. She’s served in many leadership roles. She’s not just a basketball player. I’d like for more of our players to see her as an example. You can do more than just basketball and school.”
Both Goodnough and Shelstead said they are excited to see what comes next. Although basketball won’t be playing a part in her career, Shelstead said she appreciates what she’s learned and how she’s grown through her college career.
“She is going into a very competitive field,” Goodenough said. “And I think just the fact that she’s had to face so much adversity through sports, that’s going to help her out in the workforce. You know, not be deterred by challenges and competition.”
Shelstead and her teammates took on SFA Thursday and return to Moody next Wednesday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi as the Wildcats are looking for their second consecutive conference championship. The women are in third place as of Thursday morning.