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Former Evans athlete makes it to the NFL

Posted: July 9, 2014 - 12:09am  |  Updated: July 9, 2014 - 2:41am
Former Evans High basketball and softball player Cayla Hale is now a cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons.  Special Photo
Special Photo
Former Evans High basketball and softball player Cayla Hale is now a cheerleader for the Atlanta Falcons.

In most cases, my columns focus on football, basketball, baseball, golf, etc. So when I write a story like this, you are likely wondering which former football player has latched on to an NFL roster.

Well, a former Evans Knight will be running on the field when the NFL season begins later this summer, but it is not a football player. No, Cayla Hale will never be mistaken for a football player.

However, she may have worked as hard as any of the guys wearing shoulder pads to earn her spot on the field.

Hale was a two-sport athlete during her prep days at Evans, playing softball and basketball. After graduating in 2006, she enrolled at Georgia Southern. After spending two years in Statesboro, she transferred to the University of Georgia, where she earned her degree in 2011.

After finishing school, on a whim, she decided to try out for the Atlanta Falcons Cheerleading Team.

Why not? Hale had danced with Augusta West Dance Studios most of her life and was in shape. Well, after failing to make the team, and another failed attempt to make the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team, Hale had to regroup.

“I was not prepared my first time out. I found out quickly that I needed to work on my technique and my fitness,” Hale said.

Hale moved to Nashville, Tenn., the next year and missed the Falcons tryouts, but she spent her time training. She worked on her flexibility and her overall fitness, and the hard work showed immediate dividends. She tried out for the NHL’s Nashville Predators Dance Team and made the roster. Her 12 years of competitive dancing, along with a stringent workout regimen had paid off. Hale had made it to the NHL and even performed as a background dancer for country music sensation Florida Georgia Line’s Backdrop Tour. However, Hale, always the competitor, wanted to prove to herself she could make the Falcons Cheer roster. She moved back to Atlanta in November of last year and continued to eat healthy and work hard in the gym. When the time came around for Falcons tryouts, Hale was determined to be ready.

“I thought I was ready. I even took the prep courses they offer, but I still was not thrilled with my performance,” she said. “I called my parents and told them there were just so many great girls here.”

Well, with a pep talk from her parents, Bobby and Cindy Hale, who still call Columbia County home (as does her sister Ashley Hale Ufret), Cayla was ready to give it a go. And, this time, despite competing with over 250 girls for one of only 12 new spots on the roster, Hale made the squad. All the hard work, all the training, and the time diligently spent working on her technique paid off. She had made it to the NFL.

Being an NFL cheerleader is not all glamour. They work extremely hard for a modest game check that barely covers a monthly gym fee. However, they do make other paid public appearances. And, Hale, who also models, will have a chance to add plenty of shots to her portfolio and further her modeling career. Hale, may be on her way to something special, and if she does not have a longtime, successful career as a model/dancer/cheerleader, it certainly will not be due to a lack of effort. Her spot on the Falcons roster proves she is willing to put in the time, dedication, and hard work it takes to chase your dreams.

 

Greenbrier baseball star Adam Sasser has several major offers and now he can count the University of Georgia among his top three college choices, along with Clemson and Missouri. The 6-3, 225-pound power hitting lefty has put together two extremely impressive seasons for the Pack, and still has another year to play for GHS. He burst on the scene in 2013 as a sophomore by nearly winning the Triple Crown in Columbia County. He led the county in doubles (15), HR (5), and RBI (37) and also hit an impressive .405, posted a .487 on base percentage, and slugged a whopping .723. That gave him an OPS of 1.210, which also led the county. On top of that, he went 5-1 on the mound with an ERA of 3.17 as the team’s Game One starter throughout the team’s incredible postseason run. Greenbrier finished the year with 31 wins and as the Class AAAAA runner up. Well, this season, Sasser certainly proved 2013 was no fluke. As a matter of fact his consistency over the last two seasons is astonishing. His average “dipped” to .389. He once again paced the county in doubles with 12. He also had eight homers, 38 RBI, and scored 33 runs as Greenbrier made another nice playoff run.

The squad surprised many by making it all the way to the Class AAAAA Final Four, thanks in large part to Sasser. When you look at his two seasons together the consistency is remarkable.

Perhaps UGA’s coaching staff took notice of Sasser’s consistency, too. Well, there is no doubt they have to love his power. To call his 13 home runs and 40 extra base hits the last two seasons – with the new bat restrictions – impressive would be a huge understatement.

SASSER’S STATS

 

Batting Avg. Runs On Base % Slugging % OPS Doubles HR RBI

2013 .405 35 .487 .723 1.210 15 5 37

2014 .389 33 .516 .736 1.233 12 8 38

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