‘Never take anything for granted’: Stella Smith discusses her Cullman career

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Cullman's Stella Smith. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune.)

CULLMAN, Ala. — In this interview, I talked to Cullman basketball player Stella Smith. Some of Stella’s best basketball memories actually happened off of the court and she made a lot of great memories in school as well.

“Although I made tons of memories with my girls playing basketball, some of my favorite memories happened off the court. Coach Hembree, coach Hartline, coach Shelton, and the girls are family to me, and they’ll all hold a very special place in my heart,” Smith said. “Some of my favorite memories include going to Huntsville and staying at a hotel for our Christmas tournament, which we won, updating each other on what’s happening in our lives every morning with coach Hembree in Bearcat enrichment, and going to eat with each other and just enjoying each other’s company before every home game. Senior Night was also a very special night because Jaden and I were reminded of just how much this team means to us and coach Hembree went above and beyond to make us feel loved.”

Stella added,

“Some of my best high school memories were being in the front of the student section at football, indoor pep rallies, and sophomore homecoming week. I’ll definitely miss Cullman High School!”

Stella feels blessed to have played for Head Coach Josh Hembree for her whole high school career and learned a ton of things from him.

“I’m beyond thankful for all the years I’ve had with coach Hembree. He’s made a tremendous impact on my life, and I couldn’t be more grateful for him,” Smith said. “He treated all of us as if we were his own daughters and taught us lessons that go beyond just basketball. He taught me about hard work, sacrifice, and pushing myself past my limits. He always pushed me to be the best version of myself and never let me settle for anything less. He always taught me the importance of family and surrounding yourself with good people. He was a listener. It didn’t matter what we had to talk about, whether it was girl drama or problems at home, coach Hembree was always there to listen and never let us feel alone. He’s helped me in more ways than he’ll ever know, and I could never thank him enough for all he’s done for me.”

Stella learned a lot during her time playing for the Lady Bearcats and will definitely miss being at Cullman.

“During my time at Cullman, I learned the importance of fellowship and being kind to everyone because you never know their circumstances,” Smith said. “Everyone could use a friend, no matter who they are or what they believe in. I think I’ll miss my teachers and classmates the most. I’m so thankful for all the teachers I’ve had throughout my years at Cullman. I’ve never had a bad teacher. I’m also so thankful for my classmates. I’ve loved being able to learn and grow with them and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of them.”

Cullman High School will definitely hold a very special place in Stella’s heart, and she talked about some funny memories that she made in her time there.

“Cullman is such a special place. There are so many different opportunities for students and the community aspect is unlike any other. I wouldn’t trade my years at Cullman for anything and I’ll definitely miss it,” Smith said. “Some of my funniest memories would definitely have to be during homecoming week. You never know what you’re going to see on costume day. The lip sync battles were really funny, especially when we got booed off the stage my sophomore year (laughs).”

Stella gave some advice to the students that will start high school in August.

“Step out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to try new things. COVID took so much away from me and taught me to never take anything for granted,” Smith said. “Take advantage of today and step out of your comfort zone.”

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