Expectation. Pressure. Failure.
Three words that often evoke fear in anyone looking to exceed in any field of their choosing, especially if they are following a similar path of their renowned and accomplished parents. However, this was not the case for the children of Thomas “Skippy” Ezell and Sheri Ezell. Their children Jeremy, Jordan and Jazmine are prospering, even though their parents left them with big shoes to fill. Skippy and Sheri made sure to teach their children the importance of education, hard work and giving everything your best—not matter if they chose the same path as them or not.
“My parents basically just taught me if you put in time and hard work, you'll see results. They always made sure that I was always on task, doing what I was supposed to do and be a good role model for my younger brother and sister,” Jeremy says.
Hard work and how to be a good role modelwere lessons Skippy learned from his parents at a young age. Skippy’s father was one of the three first black postmen for Terrebonne Parish. Both his parents were heavily involved in the community, with his father being a 33rd degree Mason (the highest degree) and mother being a part of the Order of Eastern Star.
For Sheri, who is a Columbus, Ohio native, she learned similar merits from her parents. Her father served in the Columbus Police Department, Columbus Sheriff’s Office and the Military Police. Her mom worked in the school system and participated in community service work with her dad.
“You hear all these stories of Skippy, you know, ‘the best quarterback to come out of south Louisiana,’” Jordan says. “Then people find out I’m an Ezell, and they automatically assume I play. So, I figured I might as well.”
The legend of Skippy in south Louisiana goes back to when he was just 13 years old. The young athlete made it to the finals in the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick competition, which was nationally televised. His talents and popularity led a committee to pass a vote allowing him to be South Terrebonne High School’s first ever freshman football player. At South Terrebonne, he played multiple sports and broke numerous school records, which allowed him to receive a scholarship from Grambling State University—where he met Sheri.
Sheri, a respected athlete in her own right, received a full-ride track scholarship from Grambling, where she also cheered. After their time at Grambling, they moved to Dallas to work at the J.C. Penny’s corporate office in Plano before returning to Louisiana.
“You have to talk through problems and try not to go to bed or leave the house mad,” says Skippy on facing challenges in marriage. “If you want to make it, you have to keep everything in house...You have to solve your own problems.”
The couple is now enjoying 32 years of marriage, though, as Sheri says, it has had its ups and downs. When they moved to Houma, Skippy began working overseas, where he would be gone 30 days at a time—sometimes more.
“Growing up, we didn't appreciate it much,” Jeremy says. “But now, looking back at it, he’s the one that made one of the biggest sacrifices for us all.”
Skippy and Sheri both admit it was tough at times, but the two remained on the same page; they knew the goals they set for their children.
“They always valued education first, and sports and everything else was second. They always knew that was your way out, your way to succeed in life and how to handle this crazy world we live in,” says Jordan. “I'm definitely going to apply that when I start my own family. People don’t realize that knowledge is power.”
Sheri started teaching in the Terrebonne Parish School District (TPSD) to not only positively influence the youth in something she valued highly: education, but to also be there for her own children, knowing that her husband would often be away. She made sure they stuck to their books, nothing lower than A’s and B’s, even though all three were highly involved in other activities.
Although the Ezell children are all walking their own paths today, each started on a trail their parents left for them. Jordan and Jeremy both played multiple sports in high school (Vandebilt Catholic), like their father. Jazmine, who is currently a senior at Vandebilt and wanted to cheer since she watched her mom coach it at two years old, is a co-captain for the cheer team that took home Regional and State Championships this year.
Education, however, is still always at the forefront for them, as their parents instilled in them.
Being a superb scholar in high school, Jeremy received an academic scholarship to Morehouse College. He later entered education, like his mother, and currently teaches chemistry at Vandebilt while also coaching basketball, cross country (Vandebilt’s Girls Cross Country won the State Championship in November.) and track.
Jordan’s commitment to school allowed him to achieve his dream of attending LSU. There, he joined their cheer team, like his mom who cheered at her respective university, and helped the program reach heights it hadn’t in many years. Always having a strong mind for math—also like his mom who received a degree in Accounting and teaches math at HJH—Jordan is now an Assistant Controller at Analytical Radiation Services International in Baton Rouge.
Jazmine, a 2018 Vandebilt Homecoming Court Maid, is maintaining an above average GPA at Vandebilt, even though she cheers, serves the community through Key Club, teaches Sunday school and more. She was just accepted to Xavier, where she is currently planning to attend for pharmacy.
“You have to learn that your kids are not the same; it’s about them doing their best,” Sheri says. “So, that's what you try to push to them—for later in life.”
Today, with their youngest about to leave the nest, the two always remain busy.
No longer working offshore, Skippy got involved in Terrebonne Parish Recreation (TPR) sports, where he supervises football, basketball and baseball. He enjoys meeting and inspiring the young ones that heard tales of him through their parents and grandparents. He is also a member of the LHSAA High School Officiating Committee for the Thibodaux region—all of this while still maintain his full-time job as a Health and Safety Executive.
Now with the TPSD for 15 years, Sheri received her master’s in educational leadership last May and hopes to soon become an administrator. She also gives back to her community by being a member of the Terrebonne Parish NAACP, Order of the Eastern Star, Socialites and Civics Club, among other various local organizations.
“We have to keep that fire going because if they see us doing it, they know they can do it,” Skippy says. “The sky is the limit,” Sheri adds. “It’s only when you want to stop, that it stops.”