Q & A with Da Boot Sports!
By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
Today's Q & A Session is with LSU softball pitcher Shelby Wickersham. Shelby is a sophomore from Metairie, Louisiana. She attended Mount Carmel Academy where she excelled in athletics (softball, basketball, & volleyball), pitching several no-hitters, winning several MVP and outstanding performance awards as well as winning a state championship in both softball and volleyball.
Wickersham was also, and is still very committed to her time in the classroom. She was a National Honor Society member and a honor roll student, as well as Valedictorian of her high school senior class.
Shelby is the daughter of former LSU quarterback Jeff Wickersham and of course grew up being a huge LSU Fighting Tigers fan.
She had a very successful freshman year for the Tigers in 2019 and was pitching with dominance in 2020 before COVID-19 put a screeching halt to the season.
Q - What is your Favorite Color?
Shelby - Purple.. and I'm not saying that because I go to LSU and we love purple over there. Purple has actually always been my favorite color.
Q - Your Favorite Food?
Shelby - Definitely Ice Cream. I'm a real sucker for it. I eat it pretty much everyday. I know that's terrible.. I really like vanilla with the chocolate shell topping. .... It's definitely Ice Cream.
Q - Who is your Favorite Pro Athlete?
Shelby - When I was growing up, Chris Paul was my favorite athlete. He played for the Hornets back then and we use to go to all of the home games. I actually went to one of his basketball camps and I got to play on his team during a contest. He ended up giving me the wrist band that he was wearing. I still have that wrist band to this day. It was such a cool experience. That made him my favorite, my all-time favorite.
I definitely love Drew Brees. I think that he plays for all the right reasons. Plays for our city and I really admire what he does for the city of New Orleans.
Q - Who is your Favorite Music Artist?
Shelby - That's so hard... I listen to a variety of music. I don't have really a favorite artist. Because I listen to country. Then the next day I'm listening to rap. Then I'm listening to hip hop or pop. It varies so much that I really just don't have one favorite artist.
Q - What is your Favorite Movie?
Shelby - I really like The Hunger Games movies.
Q - Your Favorite Actor?
Shelby - I really like Will Ferrell. I think he is so funny.
Q - Your Favorite Pro Sports Team?
Shelby - The Saints. My family, we go to every Saints home game. I love spending family time at the Saints games. I also like the Pelicans.
Q - I see you're from Metairie. Have you always lived there?
Shelby - I lived in Metairie since I was born, until we recently moved to the Old Metairie area.
Q - When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Shelby - When I was a little kid I probably wanted to be a veterinarian. Then when I got to high school I was interested in becoming a forensic pathologist, a coroner, or something of that nature. My original major when I started college was biochemistry. But I ended up switching to psychology. So I want to get a psychology degree, then maybe another degree in like sociology. Then I would like to go to Law school after I'm finished playing softball to be a Lawyer in Criminal Court.
Q - Did you play multiple sports at Mount Carmel Academy?
Shelby - I did. My 8th grade year I played basketball, volleyball, and softball. I ended up trying out for and making the varsity volleyball team my freshman year.
But a lot of people were telling me that I really need to focus on recruiting, because that's when softball recruiting begins, in the 9th grade. So I ended up not playing volleyball and a ended up committing a month later.
In my junior year I decided to play both volleyball and softball. What was so cool about that is that is we won the state championship in both sports that year. It was a really special year in high school.
Then in my senior year I decided to just focus on softball again, so that I could really prepare myself for LSU, giving myself a chance to have a big role on the team.
Q - Other then the two state championships, tell us about some of your other high school accomplishments...
Shelby - First, in athletics, during my junior year I was MVP or Most Outstanding Player in softball for the state championship. I'm sure I made All-District, All-Metro, and All-Regional both my junior and senior years.
As a sophomore I earned 'Female Athlete of the Week' honors three times and was selected to the NFCA South Team, along with earning the Coaches Award as a freshman.
My favorite and one of my biggest accomplishments in high school happened in academics. I was Valedictorian and I read the Valedictorian speech at my graduation which was so cool.
Q - Please tell us a little about your recruiting process.. Did anyone else recruit you besides LSU?
Shelby - I had a bunch of schools start to recruit me in 8th grade. I actually took my first official visit to Alabama.
Then in 9th grade I took visits to South Alabama, Ole Miss, then LSU was my last visit. When LSU would offer to me, I would commit right there on the spot. That's where I wanted to go.
I had gone to camp at Florida. I was looking at OU, and a bunch of different schools. I really didn't take that many visits. I canceled a lot of visits after I committed to LSU. I just knew there was nothing else out there that I wanted to see beside LSU. That was my dream school from when I was a kid. I knew that if they offered me, that's where I was going to go. So it was really exciting when they did.
Q - That was my next question. Why did you chose LSU over the other schools that recruited you?
Shelby - I definitely grew up a LSU fan because of my dad. We would go to all the football games when I was growing up.
It's just close to home which I really like. Not only does it feel like a home itself, but it's close to my home. So that was real important to me, so my family could come to my games and to represent my State.
When I walked on campus it just felt like home and family. Coach Beth feels like my second mom. It was just the perfect fit for me. I don't think there are any nicer facilities or a nicer campus out there. LSU is just the greatest place in my eyes.
Q - Can you tell us a little about your relationship with Coach Torina?
Shelby - I actually started pitching at her Monday night clinics when I was 12 years old. So I've known Coach Beth for a very long time. Since I had worked with her for so long I already knew how she ran things. So it was really nice to have my foot already in the door and to know what we were doing.
Coach Beth is definitely like a second mom. She is a tough-love kind of coach. She cares for her players more as people then she does as athletes. Of course she cares for us as both, but she is really big on us being Tigers for life. I think that's the best thing a coach could ever do for you. She is worried about how we are as people and our lives after softball, just as much as softball itself. So I think that's really cool.
Q - Can you please tell us a little about your freshman season as a LSU Softball player?
Shelby - My freshman season just flew by. It was so much fun.
My first ever game at LSU I had the opportunity to and did throw a no-hitter. That was really special. I looked at that as I trusted my teammates 100%. They made all the plays on the field.
Then we had amazing at-bats, hitting several home runs. It was crazy.
We actually broke the home run record last year. That was really fun to be a part of. There was a lot of team accomplishments that we did, I think that was really cool too.
Another game that was really exciting to me was the Florida game. We fell behind 2-0 in the first inning. I gave up a hit and then a home run, back to back on my first two pitches. I think I was just nervous because it was only my second SEC game.
I remember Amanda Sanchez coming up to me and saying, "You got this. Just give it all you have and no matter what happens, just do your best. Pitch your game and don't think about anything else." .... After that I think I only gave up one more hit the rest of the game.
Having my teammates behind me, encouraging me, and calming me down, that's what helps me to be successful. We had like an older team and then also a younger team. We had so many seniors and so many freshman, it made the balance perfect.
Q - Tell us about when you found out about the season coming to an end. I know you and the team were preparing to travel to Columbia, SC to take on a really good South Carolina team to start SEC play...
Shelby - I had my bag packed on Thursday and we were all suppose to go to the field, practice a little, then get on a plane to go. When we got to the field coach told us, "We're not going to travel today. Let's just go out and have a fun practice. I know everyone will be upset so we will talk about it. The SEC just doesn't want anyone to travel right now."
We already knew that we were going to play without any fans in attendance that weekend, so we weren't completely caught off guard by it. We were bummed out and thought that was really crazy that it was happening.
So we were having a fun practice, listening to music, and playing a game. Then Coach Beth leaves the bullpen I was pitching in to take a phone call. When she came back we could tell that she had tears in her eyes. We really didn't know what was going on and didn't ask. So we continued to practice like normal.
After practice Coach Beth sat us in the dugout like she always does, and said. "I don't know the right words to tell you. I've been putting off telling you all practice so all of you can enjoy what looks like will be your last moment of the season..... The NCAA has canceled the season, including all tournaments and the World Series." ... We were all devastated and started crying.
When the news first hits you, it's a shock. You just don't understand. But I think looking back on the situation now, we realize that this is the best thing that we could do this season. Stopping play definitely hurts and it stinks, but stopping play would be saving many lives and that's what we have to think about.
It's for the health of our families. It's for the health of our Country. It's even for our health. You have to keep that in mind when you think about our season ending. That makes it a lot easier knowing that we are doing this for the greater good.
We will have another chance to play on that field next year. Giving us an extra year of eligibility is the greatest blessing the NCAA has done for us. Knowing that we can come back next year with the same team basically and still fight and show what we have. That's the greatest thing we could ask for.
Q - Do you still play summer ball for the Marucci Patriots?
Shelby - No.. I played for them from my freshman to my senior year going into college. Now for the summer I normally take some time off during June, then start pitching again to prepare for fall ball. But I don't play on any organize team as of right now.
Coach Beth writes us workouts that we can follow in the summer. She sends us a sheet of all the workouts that we have. Then we pick which workout that we will work on that week. That way we know what we should be doing and what is best for us.
Last year during our exit meeting, she picked out things that we needed to work over the summer. My goal was to throw 2,000 change up pitches last summer. So I did throw 2,000 change up pitches over the summer. The change up ended up being one of my best pitches this spring. So it was so cool to see all that hard work pay off for this season. It truly made a big difference for me to be able to throw an off-speed pitch. Batters couldn't just sit on my drop ball.
Q - What's it like being the daughter of one of the best quarterbacks in LSU history?
Shelby - Well truly, I think most of the time I don't really realize it until we are eating dinner somewhere and someone will ask, "Are you Jeff Wickersham?" ... People still come up to him and ask him things.
He gets things in the mail sometimes with autograph request on his player cards. I look at him just as my dad. I don't like, ... 'He played at LSU and he was a quarterback'....
I just look at him as dad. But it's really cool to see that he left a legacy at LSU. It's very cool for me to follow in his foot steps and I hope to do the same one day. But at home, he's just my dad. To me, I see him everyday and he is just a loving dad that would do anything for his kids. He is just a great dad.
We have seen a couple of his games on TV and he always laughs and says, "They always play the games that I did terrible in." ... and I'm like, "Dad, you did fine,".... He gets to do some cool stuff with the 'L Club' that we always attend as a family. We also use to wear his real jerseys that he played in at LSU to school on jersey days. That was really cool. I can remember doing that in grammar school. We just love doing things with him.
Q - Is there anything you would like to tell LSU fans?
Shelby - I think LSU has the best fans in the nation, by far. We are the craziest people and every time an opponent walks into our park, they definitely have a disadvantage because of our fans.
I just think that LSU is the greatest place and I'm so thankful for all of the fans that support us.