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They're not ODU alumni or parents of students, but for more than two
decades, home game or away, Jean and Darrell Shepherd have been in the
stands to cheer on the Lady Monarchs as part of their extended family.

"We went to our first Lady Monarchs game 25 years ago and, until they built
the Constant Center, we were in the same seats for every game as season
ticket holders. Now we fill the same seats at The Ted," Darrell said

Having no children of their own, the Shepherds have sort of adopted the
players in their hearts over the years. They follow the team on road trips
and have even been there to cheer them on at the Final Four.

As further evidence of their devotion, the Shepherds have a Lady Monarch
room in their Norfolk home, and at Christmas were given a specially
commissioned tabletop-size Lady Monarch mermaid to add to their
memorabilia. The little mermaid was a gift from Jean's sister, Elizabeth

Starnes, who retained local artist Georgia Mason for the project. Mason has
made many of the 10-foot finned creatures seen around Norfolk.

"She (Elizabeth) told me that there weren't any two people on Earth who
loved that team more and when I saw their house, I believed it. They are
just all about those Lady Monarchs," Mason said.

Darrell explained, "You get to know them, the players, and they expect you
to be there for them. You start going to the games and then you realize
that they're watching you, too, and you don't want to disappoint them.
"You know every player by name and they look for you up in the stands. For
us, it isn't just a game to win or lose. It's family. We just love them."

This article was posted on: January 25, 2006

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