Go down Due West Avenue in Madison, Tennessee and you’ll see Goodpasture Christian School.
Opened in 1966, Goodpasture Christian School has spent all of 54 years embracing its mission to build confidence, intellectual growth, and spiritual strength.
Confidence. As defined in the dictionary as “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something.”
Confidence is something that 14-year-old, freshman forward Xavier Shegog has gained throughout his time at Goodpasture Christian. But, it’s something he’s worked to earn over the years. Out of all people Shegog had to earn the confidence of, it started with his own step-dad.
At the beginning of his basketball journey, Shegog had interest in playing for an elite AAU team. His step-dad, Jonathan Patton, wasn’t buying it.
“I wanted to play on the elite team, but he said ‘nah, you’re not ready for it,” Shegog said. “He even told me face to face, ‘I don’t think you’re ready to be playing this type of basketball.'”
“He didn’t think I was aggressive at that point in my life. I just tried to prove him wrong, I was like ‘nah, I’m ready for it.'”
From that point on, Shegog strived to become more aggressive. “Aggressive” is a word that fits him perfectly.
He is definitely an aggressive forward, and he’s towering over everyone at 6’5″. That makes him an extensive threat in the paint on defense and gives him the length to make dunks look way too easy.
Shegog’s height will continue to be an issue for opposing teams. He could potentially be as tall as 6’10” when it’s all said and done.
His commitment to being aggressive has turned the freshman giant into a defensive-minded monster. He can block shots as good as anyone, and he enjoys the frustration it causes his opponents.
“I love the aggressiveness (of defensive play). I love it when people get frustrated,” Shegog said, “Defense wins championships. If you can’t play defense, then you can’t get on offense.”
That experience with his step-dad has helped him build the confidence and aggressiveness that he relies on today.
“I had to get stronger, I got bigger. And eventually it led to the person I am today.”
After years of preparation, opportunity came knocking a bit earlier than expected. After an unfortunate injury to one of his key players, Goodpasture’s head coach, Adam Sonn, turned to an 8th grader for help.
That 8th grader was Xavier Shegog.
Coach Sonn said he knew Xavier was someone they could rely on to come in and get the job done. That experience has helped push his game to the next level, and gave him a head start on finding his role with the team.
“It was good for me,” Shegog said, “because it’s not like I’m walking onto a team blind, like I don’t know who everyone is. It actually brought out the aggressiveness that I needed.”
Xavier has been at Goodpasture practically all his life. His life journey at Goodpasture Christian School started at Pre-K. Now as a freshman, he has a chance to become a household name in the Cougars’ lineup.
He’s under a coach in Adam Sonn who was a double-double machine at Belmont University as a center. His team mimics his playing style: Play defense, and move the ball on offense.
“He’s influenced me a lot,” Shegog said, “He’s influenced me more in being actually in the post than anything else. With him, defense is his main thing, and then when we get on offense it’s like move the ball, find the open man, don’t hold the ball too long.”
With their season tipping off soon, Coach Sonn will look to elevate Shegog’s game while Shegog will continue to lean on his Faith and crafting the talent that he knows is God-given.
But, getting to this point wasn’t an easy walk in the park for Shegog. He’s had a lot of ups-and-downs, a lot of tests, and most likely a lot of failures. He has a simple message for those who are still pushing in their basketball career much like he is.
“All I would say is, keep grinding,” he said, “the work will show for itself. Really just keep grinding, day in and day out, grind grind grind. The hard work will pay off.”
Featured image by Meg Cam