Just like many college freshmen, Center Grove High School graduate Erica Shepherd is a bit homesick after a few months at Duke University.
She misses her home and family, home cooked meals, sleeping in her own bed at home, familiar friends, and the routine that she had for many years while attending classes at Center Grove schools. Her daily routine as a teenager always has been different than most girls and is that way today.
You see, this 18-year-old is among the best young female golfers in the U.S. and is among the young players who represent the future of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
During an exclusive interview last week at the Brickyard Crossing, Shepherd reflected on the transition from her home life to Duke University.
“It’s definitely crazy, a lot different that living at home,” Shepherd said. “The past 18 years, I’ve lived in one house on my golf course (Dye). I’ve had everything work in my favor; I have been blessed to have that situation. Then moving away, I’m trying to find something akin to that.
Then she bluntly said, “I can say I’ve definitely been homesick. I’ve already learned some good life lessons in one month.”
Her daily routine at Duke University when she’s not competing in a collegiate meet consists of early practice, workouts, classes, more practice and homework.
“Honestly, last week, I felt like I got into a routine there,” she said. “I hope when I get back, I can get in the flow of things. It’s definitely a grind.”
Shepherd was among the highly recruited schoolgirl golfers in the U.S. She verbally committed to Duke early in her high school career. The Southside golfer was a two-time Indiana Junior champion, USGA U.S. girls junior champion, USGA women’s 4-ball champion and was on the winning junior Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup teams.
The secret to her young success?
“I just try to stay in the moment,” the 18-year-old Hoosier said.
At home last week, her mom, Jerlyn, fixed her favorite meal of scrambled eggs, bacon and strawberries. Dad Matt and brother Ethan, an Indiana University golfer, are her biggest fans.
Although an amateur, she qualified for the Indy Women in Tech tournament for the third time at the Brickyard Crossing and finished in a tie for 39th place with scores of 70-74-70-70 – 284 (2-under par).
“I’ve played this course so much that I’ve learned you can make a birdie on every hole,” Shepherd said. “Being so comfortable out here with the greens, I think that’s how that (under par) happens.”
Her home course is the Dye’s Walk Country Club Course in Greenwood. Her longtime coach is Brent Nicoson, head coach at the University of Indianapolis.
“I keep in communication with him (Nicoson) and he’s pretty good friends with the Duke coaches,” Shepherd said. “It’s basically all-me down there. They (Duke) recruit the best players and let them play.”
And she continues to gain fans by representing Greenwood, Indiana and the U.S.
“A lot of people from home have been here for the past three years,” Shepherd. “And all the kids who come up to me is really special. It’s an honor for sure to be able to play for my country in the Ryder Cup, but I’ll always be from Indiana – I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.”
As much as she enjoyed her home and family for a few days, Shepherd left the area Sunday to join her Duke teammates for a college golf tournament Monday in Chicago.