But I know God had a plan for me here…


Kirk Sheplay was faced with a tough decision in the summer of 2009—where to attend school—and five years later considers Vanguard to be the best decision he has ever made. As a Lion, the fifth-year senior guard for the ninth-ranked Vanguard Men’s Basketball program has blossomed into a man on his way to becoming a doctor and a difference-maker throughout the world.
“Honestly, Vanguard was one of my last choices,” Sheplay openly states. “But I know God had a plan for me here, and he shut doors to other places and opened the door to Vanguard. Time after time God has shown me his plan is better, and I am so thankful for that.”
Since joining the Men’s Basketball program as a freshman in 2009-2010, Sheplay has grown as a basketball player and as a leader on and off the floor. He earned his degree in Biology in May 2013, graduating with a remarkable 3.9 GPA, earning NAIA Scholar-Athlete while balancing basketball and other campus activities. Now a 22-year old graduate student who is a leader in the locker room while pursuing a Master’s degree in Theological Studies, Sheplay is able to reflect on his time as a Lion.
“Vanguard has changed my life,” Sheplay says. “Coming here was the best thing that has ever happened to me. I have experienced true community at Vanguard, which is something special. The basketball team is a great example of being a family. We have the best coaches in the world, and they place a big emphasis on winning and competing at a high level, but they put more emphasis in how we mature as men of God. They pour their heart into everyone in the program to become good basketball players, but more importantly to be men who make a difference.”
After the 2013-2014 season, Sheplay will have exhausted all of his eligibility for the Lions. However, he is even more excited about the next step in life.
“My future goal is to be a physician,” Sheplay comments. “I want to work overseas as a ministry, fulfilling the great commission and spreading the word of God. That is why I am also getting my Masters in Theological Studies, so I can be prepared as possible to make an impact. I have seen the need for doctors across the world. People come by the thousands to medical clinics, and we are able to treat their physical and their spiritual needs as well.”
Sheplay is no stranger to being in foreign countries. He has visited over 20 countries on mission trips, including recent trips with VU athletes to the Himalayas and Australia. He is also part of the team of Lions heading to Tanzania in the summer in 2014.
“My vision is to make a lasting impact on this world on a grand scale,” he says. “I don’t want my impact to die when I die. I want it to continue on. My dream is to make hospitals overseas, staff them and fund them, and once they’re sustainable I will move on and do the same thing in a different place.”
Sheplay has shown the determination to make a difference not only across the world, but in The Pit as a VU athlete. A popular teammate who has grown into a leadership role, Sheplay is a crowd favorite known for his physical and mental toughness.
“Kirk is a pleasure to coach,” states Vanguard Head Men’s Basketball Coach Rhett Soliday. “He brings everything he has every day, and makes our team better and tougher. But more importantly, Kirk is a great example of Christ’s love to his teammates and the people at VU. Kirk will be missed in The Pit, but we know he has a bigger purpose than basketball.”
Sheplay also recognizes the connection between his passion for basketball and the desire to use his gifts beyond Vanguard. He sees it in the relationships between his teammates and coaches, in the student body, and in the support from alums and Invest in Gold donors. In his mind, there is no coincidence.
“Our coaches, and really everyone at Vanguard, encourage us to graduate and make an everlasting impact on this world,” Sheplay excitedly says. “They have made us disciples because of their examples, and they challenge us to go make disciples on our own. Because of the impact Vanguard and the basketball team has had on my life, I see myself always supporting the program in the future. I want to give back, because I have literally seen it change my life and the lives of my teammates. Since I have been here, numerous guys have made a decision to follow the Lord, which is amazing. The whole athletic department over the last few years has really blossomed spiritually.”
Vanguard’s mission statement is to equip each student for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. There may not be a better example of fulfilling the mission statement than the story of Kirk Sheplay. The tough, scholar-athlete, doctor-to-be who embodies everything Vanguard and the athletic department is all about.