Kaleigh Smith signed an academic scholarship and committed to play softball at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas.
The signing took place Monday in Sylacauga High School’s Media Center.
“That’s something that I am excited about,” Smith said. “I kind of put off deciding (on) a college for a while because I really couldn’t find that fit for me.
“At the end of May, I was able to go and visit Hendrix. I learned about their program and the school as a whole. I really felt like I found my place when I took my visit there.”
Smith had several scholarship opportunities both academically and athletically.
“I really liked the atmosphere there and the campus, too,” Smith said of Hendrix. “The coach was really nice, and it felt like a place that I could spend the next four years.”
Finding the right fit took some time for Smith, who scored a 31 on the ACT.
Smith, who was the salutatorian at Sylacauga, said Hendrix’s 3-2 engineering program and the opportunities that come with it really interested her. In a 3-2 program, students have the opportunity to earn both a liberal arts degree and an engineering degree.
Smith prides herself on being the best in everything she does, and it showed in her performance in the classroom as well as on the diamond.
But her success didn’t happen just by chance. She dedicated time for both each day.
“It took some planning and focusing,” Smith said. “It was a lot of time management and knowing when to work on one and when to back off on the other. If school was pressuring me, I would escape with softball, and vice versa.”
Besides balancing school work and softball, she also was involved with FBLA, National Honor Society, Key Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Sister-to-Sister mentoring program.
Sylacauga head coach Jay Brooks lauded the way Smith was able to handle everything she was involved in.
“Kaleigh has had to overcome some obstacles to get to this point, but she persisted and never gave up,” Brooks said. “Her academics and other extracurricular activities kept her busy, but she was also committed to playing softball. I am very proud of her accomplishments and wish her the best.”
Smith played a role in leading the Lady Aggies to the Class 5A, Area 7 title, which secured their berth in the East Central Regional Tournament.
“It was probably my best season of high school ball because of the people,” she said. “The games are fun … but the people make it for me. It was a great atmosphere to play in this year.”
Smith said she is grateful for everyone who played a role in making this accomplishment possible.
“I would like to thank my family, my friends and Coach (Amy) Weaver from Hendrix College for giving me this opportunity to go out-of-state and play ball.”