Rachel Sheppard, a senior guard/forward on the Morgan Park Academy (MPA) basketball team, has been on the varsity since her freshman season. Last year as a junior, Sheppard was a starter on the regional championship team. A Beverly resident, she also played volleyball for the Warriors. She also attended MPA in elementary school.

How has your fall and winter been without volleyball and basketball?

“Of course, I was pretty bummed to not be able to play. You look forward to everything about your senior year, from the sports to just the normal senior-year activities. You realize how much time you spend around school. I’ve tried to take advantage and spend more time with my family at home. We’ve got family across the street in Beverly and some family in Richton Park, too, so not too far.”

Feeling positive about a potential hoops season?

“I would love to have a season and play. The reality is that, with everything getting pushed back and the number of cases in Chicago, I’m just not sure. I’m trying to manage my expectations, but we really want to play.”

As a senior, is the what-if aspect tough to handle?

“For me, this year would mean a lot. At MPA, we have a very small team. That team is my family. So, no practices or games, not working out, not spending time together, it sucks because this is my family through high school. I would really appreciate the season, even if it’s just to spend time with my [team] family.”

Keeping in touch with your teammates?

“We’ve done some Zoom calls, and we’ve always got a group text where we’re texting each other. We’ve got some younger kids on the team, so it’s tough to meet in person the right way and socially distance, but we’re doing all those little things to keep in touch.”

Is the Sheppard Family a huge Christmas family?

“Christmas is a pretty big deal for us. We usually do Thanksgiving at my uncle’s house, and we host Christmas. We do our thing in the morning Christmas Day, and family comes over in the afternoon. We eat and do presents and watch the basketball games that are on.”

Any big Christmas/holiday traditions?

“We usually go out of town at some point. We were supposed to go to Hawaii this year, but we weren’t able to go. We’ve had some unique trips [as a family], and not just Christmas. We took a cruise to Alaska, but we’ve been to Germany, Mexico, the Bahamas and Poland.”

Where’s the coolest place you’ve been?

“We’re a Disney family. We’ve probably been 30 times. I love going to the Magic Kingdom. That’s the best part of the park. Nothing beats the fireworks going off there at night. I love riding Tower of Terror. That’s probably my favorite ride. For Disney movies, we like ‘Princess and the Frog’ and ‘Moana,’ and ‘Hamilton’ has been a big favorite lately.”

Your favorite Christmas movie?

“‘Christmas Vacation,’ we always watch that together with the family because of my mom. It’s her favorite.”

Best Christmas carol?

“It’s not one particular song, but I really like any Christmas song from Pentatonix. They’re good.”

When does the Christmas tree go up in the Sheppard home?

“Usually a week or two after Thanksgiving. When we take it down is the better question. It might stick around for a while. The tree varies from year to year. Sometimes, it’s bows. Other times, it’s lights and ornaments. We’ve got everything. I’ve got dance ornaments; and my dad loves ‘Star Trek,’ so we have those ornaments, too.”

Are you a big dancer on top of your high school sports?

“Dancing was my first love. I started when I was 3. I love playing sports, too, especially in high school, but dancing is so important to me. It’s all the different styles. Ballet is what I focus on a lot. It’s a hobby I’d love to do in college, too. There are different clubs and classes you can do. It will just depend where I go.”

Best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

“I got a MacBook Pro last year. It’s been really helpful with school, especially in the world of Zoom and all the different things we need to do. It was a gift I really enjoyed.”

What’s on the Christmas Day dinner menu?

“Pretty normal stuff, ham, macaroni and cheese, and the desserts vary.”

How about New Year’s Eve/Day, any family traditions?

“It changes from year to year. We did go to Disney for New Year’s Day. We went to Medieval Times once. That was fun. It’s usually a day we’re together as a family. It’ll probably be that way this year. We always have fun.”