HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- On the high school football field, Douglas Freeman senior Shep Pounders plays multiple positions.
"He's played tight end. He's played quarterback. He's played defensive end. He's played linebacker. He's played safety," Freeman Head Football Coach George Bland said.
When you play so many, it can be difficult to single out one responsibility.
But it is Pounders' responsibility that allows his coaches to trust him with so many different roles.
"The reason he's had the opportunity to play all those positions is because we know we can count on him to do what's best not for himself but for everyone else that's on the field," Bland said.
What's best for everyone else above what might be best for himself has been a guiding principle of Pounders' entire life.
His time away from the field is even busier than his time on it.
"I am an Eagle Scout. I have my own small engine repair business called ironically Shep's Small Engine Repair," he said. "I am also involved with an organization called CARITAS which helps prevent homelessness and addiction. Cookies For Cancer has obviously been a big part of my life. Varsity football is another one. I'm the NHS Treasurer this year."
Some of us wish we had more time each day. Pounders gets the same 24 hours the rest of us do, but he uses them a little differently.
"There's always time," he said. "You just have to make time."
Since middle school, Pounders has had his own small business born out of practical reason by his father who taught him to work and repair engines.
"He wanted to do that so when I drive, he didn't get a call at 2 a.m. saying the car broke down and I can't fix it," Pounders said.
But even before that, Pounders learned about giving back to others and the community.
When he was five, his mother began taking him along to a bake sale she put together to benefit Cookies For Kids Cancer in memory of a friend who lost a son to the disease.
The thought of kids not having the same opportunities he enjoyed stuck with Pounders.
"I'm fortunate enough to go play pick-up basketball, study whatever, but there are kids fighting for their life in a hospital bed and I feel that I should be the one fighting for them out here," he said.
Pounders and his friends took the idea and tried to make it bigger every year.
Since this is their senior year at Freeman, this was their last chance to make their mark together with this event.
"We want to go out, sort of with a bang if you will," he said.
Over the years, the bake sale has raised about $20,000 for Cookies For Kids Cancer.
While the money is nice, the awareness is better.
"What Cookies for Kids Cancer and all these other foundations need is that reach. If I can help push that boundary a little bit more I think that would be great," he said.
Pounders has pushed the boundary of community service nearly his whole life.
His coach called him the ultimate servant leader, which sounds like an oxymoron. But as he sets up his teammates on the field, Pounders strives to set up his community in the same way.
"I joke around a little bit that he better remember me when he's President of the United States," Coach Bland said. "He better remember to give me a cabinet position or something."
Life, like football, is a team sport.
"There's been a lot of people in my life that have helped me open up my vision so it's not just me, me, me it's we," Pounders said. "Hopefully, I'm doing a good job of spreading that same message, but I credit it to the people that have done that for me."
Pounders and his friends did go out with a bang.
The 2023 bake sale raised $4,500 which was a record amount for their yearly stand.
Their total was matched by the cookware company OXO, meaning Cookies for Kids Cancer received $9,000.
Pounders hopes to study business or engineering in college next year and with service in mind, The Naval Academy is one of the schools he is considering.
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