CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman High School’s Tillman Hall was packed with friends, family, teammates, and coaches Thursday afternoon to celebrate a pair of Bearcats taking the next step in their athletic and academic careers. Cullman baseball standout Hayden Stancil will be taking his talents to Snead State after his senior season and Lady Bearcats Volleyball star Gracie Barksdale will head down the road to play for Head Coach Randy Daniel and the Wallace State Lions.
Gracie put together some impressive numbers in her career at Cullman High School, racking up 956 kills, 673 digs, 154 blocks and 113 aces and helping lead the Lady Bearcats to two appearances at the AHSAA North Regional.
Barksdale knows that she’ll miss her teammates and coaches at Cullman after spending so much time with them, but she’s also excited about what the future has in store. She’ll be stepping into a great program with a lot of familiar faces.
“Being at Wallace was really a good thing for me from the moment I stepped over there. I played club there, I knew all the girls that were already playing there and knew several that had already committed in my recruiting class, so I knew right away that that’s where I need to be,” Barksdale said. “I’m definitely going to miss my teammates and all the girls I’ve played with since I was little. A lot of things will be the same, but a lot will also be different so I’m excited to see what’s new.”
Cullman Volleyball Coach Meagan Cagle isn’t surprised to see one of her standout players and leaders earn this opportunity because she’s seen Barksdale put in the work firsthand.
“Gracie has always just had an incredible work ethic, a great attitude and been a great leader. She’s just a great player and a great kid all the way around so I’m so proud of her,” Cagle said. “She has definitely worked hard to earn this, and she’s always been willing to put in work and go 110% all the time.”
Next to Gracie at the table in Tillman Hall was Bearcats Baseball player Hayden Stancil. Stancil has made a big impact for Cullman on the diamond ever since he earned a spot in the varsity lineup. Last season, Hayden posted a .325 batting average with 11 extra base hits and 21 RBIs. On the mound, he finished with a 6-1 record, a 2.43 ERA and 56 strikeouts.
Hayden has one more season with the Bearcats coming up this spring but he’s looking forward to playing with some more of his friends at Snead too. Stancil has grown as a player over the last few years, and he credits his head coach for helping him develop into a college player.
“It just really felt like home to me after bonding with those guys over there. I know a couple buddies that play over there now, and I know some guys from Georgia that are there that I’ve played with in some tournaments over the summer so that’ll be good to play with them. What I’m going to miss the most about playing here is just the enthusiasm that Coach (Patterson) brought to practice every day and the way he pushed us to be the best players we could be. It was just awesome.”
Like Cagle, Bearcats Baseball Coach Brent Patterson is not surprised to see one his best players earn this opportunity. Patterson has seen Stancil put in the time and effort to develop over the years and now that work is starting to pay off in big ways.
“He’s quiet, determined, does extra and doesn’t do it for show. He’s very, very diligent in his work and it means the world to him,” Patterson said. “What people get to see on the field is the product of all the things they don’t see, and he’s worked for years and years and years to be in that spot and be the type of guy that will be a number one for us and have a career in college. I think that’s the biggest thing, he’s a quiet worker that’s a great teammate and he is highly, highly competitive.”
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