‘Lead by example’: Kaylee Stallings remembers her Holly Pond career

Holly Pond’s Kaylee Stallings. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – In this interview, I spoke with Holly Pond multi-sport athlete Kaylee Stallings about her days as a Bronco. Kaylee made a lot of great memories on and off the field in her time at Holly Pond.

“I have so many memories over my years of playing. Some of my favorite softball memories would have to be winning area last year, making it to regionals every year since 8th grade, hitting my first grand slam in the county tournament my senior year, and staying up so late playing games to the point we were would all be delirious and just having fun,” Stallings said. “Some more of my favorite softball memories include staying in the hotels at regionals together and running into the fence at practice trying to hit a home run ball. Some of my favorite basketball memories include always jamming to music in the locker room before every home game, making five threes in the first quarter of the game that the cheerleaders threw out T-shirts for every made three, and watching Maddi Ham hit a game-winning half-court shot with two seconds left to beat Brindlee Mountain. I also loved attending basketball camp every summer when I was little. I loved doing drills, playing Gotcha! and Dribble Derby, and listening to all the stories Coach Adams would tell us.”

Stallings added,

“Some of my favorite high school memories include dressing up for homecoming week, decorating the school for our senior prank, participating in the homecoming Olympics every year, and going to football games.”

Kaylee feels blessed to have played for a long list of coaches, including her dad, when she played in Park and Rec.

“Growing up, my dad was always my coach in Park and Rec. He taught me all the fundamentals of the game and so much more,” Stallings said. “He was the one that taught me to put in the extra work for something you love. Over the years, I have played for so many coaches that have encouraged me, pushed me, and corrected me. My coaches at Holly Pond have been nothing short of that. They have always believed in me and inspired me. They have always preached about the two things that you can control in life, which is your effort and attitude. I have learned to be patient, but still be present.”

Kaylee added,

“Coach Andrew Kelley has impacted my life tremendously. I am very grateful that I was able to play for him. He always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. He was always looking for a way to help us improve and make us better. He taught me how to stand up and be a leader to the younger kids. He taught us how important it was to play as a team and pick each other up. But most importantly, he made sure we had faith in each other and the Lord.”

Stallings learned so much during her time as a Bronco and became of the leaders for Holly Pond while she was there.

“I have learned so much through the years, but my biggest takeaway is to keep pushing, even when times are hard because it will all be worth it in the end,” Stallings said. “Everything will face many obstacles and challenges throughout life, but it’s the way that you respond to them that will make you different. Being a leader or role model has always been so important to me. I believe it is important to lead by example and put others’ needs first. You have to hold yourself accountable before you can hold anyone else. You need to set the standard high and have confidence. I have always tried to motivate others, whether it was cheering them on, pulling them to the side if they’re frustrated, or just being the first person to pat them on the back when they come off the court or in the dugout. To the younger kids, just remember, every team needs to have leaders to be successful. Don’t be afraid to step up and be one for your team.”

Kaylee will miss a lot about her time at Holly Pond and gave some advice to the students that will be starting high school in August.

“I will definitely miss the people and the atmosphere at Holly Pond. I am going to miss seeing the people that I grew up with for the last 13 years,” Stallings said. “I am going to miss the teachers and the people that prepared me for the future. The things I’m going to miss the most is softball and basketball. I have poured my heart and soul into both games. They have both taught me how to handle failure, but also how to celebrate success. I’m so grateful for everything both sports have taught me. They have both changed my life and I will cherish all of the memories that were made.”

Stallings added,

“My advice to the upcoming freshmen would be to enjoy and soak in every moment. Set goals and challenge yourself to achieve them. The next four years will fly by before you know it, so have fun, make a ton of memories, and don’t take anything for granted. Be present and live in the moment. There are no re-dos, so make the next four years count. Work hard for the things you want and be the light to others.”

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