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Like it was yesterday, Shepherdstown High athletics and athletes are remembered by Athletics Hall of Fame

By Staff | Jul 18, 2018

The last graduation took place in 1972. School consolidation made changes to the educational landscape. Students that had attended Shepherdstown High School would travel to Shenandoah Junction and join with other students that had been at Harpers Ferry and Charles Town and open the doors to Jefferson High School.

Four sports had been offered at Shepherdstown — football, basketball, baseball and track and field. The teams from the 1971-1972 school year folded their red and white uniforms and the athletes either graduated or wondered about the unknowns that would hover through the summer of 1972, before they enrolled at much larger Jefferson High.

Forty-six years ago the careful preparation of statistics for the teams . . . the filing of each team’s records . . . the chronicling of the names, heights, weights and their year in school of each athlete would be no more.

But those people who were there, who participated on the fields or in the gymnasium as coaching assistants, managers, statisticians or team followers, remember the games and meets almost like it were just yesterday.

Many Shepherdstown High athletes participated in athletics the school-year round. Football, then basketball, then baseball or track and field. Grass drills. Running wind sprints. Conditioning drills when basketball had everybody’s attention. Batting practice when the harsh weather abated just enough to get out on a field that had been partially frozen the night before. Lap after lap for the tracksters whose makeshift facilities for any field event would not meet Olympic standards.

The high school has now inducted two groups — ten versatile athletes — into its still-young Shepherdstown High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

One of them was tall-for-his-time John Shackelford, a slender six-foot-three-inches-tall all-round, year-round Cardinal who would continue to live in Shepherdstown long after he had gone through the narrow halls of the high school for the last time.

Even as a freshman, Shackelford was on the varsity basketball team. And he was a starter among a group of upperclassmen at the small-enrollment school. The local daily newspaper selected him to its second-team All-Sectional squad.

As the years reeled off the calendar, Shackelford was named no fewer than three times to the Class A Sectional all-tournament team in events that also included Hedgesville, Harpers Ferry, Musselman and Paw Paw high schools.

And even as a freshman, he was a member of the football team; eventually playing four seasons as an offensive end and place kicker. As a junior, he tied for the team leadership in touchdowns scored.

For three years, he was a member of the baseball team. About eight or 10 years after graduation, Shackelford was playing baseball on Sundays as a member of the Shepherdstown Red Sox of the Tri-County League. Home games were staged at Fairfax Field on the Shepherd College campus, where the roofed grandstand gave some shade to any followers of the amateur team.

As a senior, he was a member of the track and field team, often running in relays.

Later, when working for Kave’s Grocery on German Street, Shackelford’s easy smile and congenial ways made him perfect for the job of home delivery of food and wares the store provided for shut-ins or the elderly.

As a meat cutter at the Potomac Market just west of town in the 1980s, he would call out to those he knew as they shopped through the local grocery store.

John Shackelford was an always-busy athlete at Shepherdstown High School. And, just like many other Shepherdstown High classmates, he could easily recall his years at the know-everybody, like-everybody school.