CENTENARY, Ohio — A change in sports provide a transition to college.
On May 16, 2018, in Gallia Academy High School, senior Cassidy Starnes signed her letter of intent to join the Shawnee State University cross country and track and field teams.
“Luckily, I have a chance to run at the next level,” said Starnes. “I hadn’t ran track in over four years. I’ve been playing softball since I was three years old. Last year I had to have elbow surgery, so I lost my possible softball scholarships. I decided to go back to track to have something to do and fell in love with it.”
Starnes, who has ran cross country since seventh grade, has been a member of the Gallia Academy softball program since her freshman year prior to injury, while also playing basketball her freshman year.
“When I returned to track, my main event became the 1600-meter run,” said Starnes. “I set personal records my past three meets. I’ve been dropping my time all season. I feel like that’s showing Coach Eric Putnam at Shawnee State that I’m going to be on pace for my mile times in cross country this season.”
When asked about what ultimately guided her to choose Shawnee State, Starnes recalled her visit to the campus and the welcoming atmosphere.
“I loved the campus,” Starnes said. “I also really liked the dorms. What really made me like it the most was Coach Putnam and how he made me really feel welcome. While I was visiting, some of the other runners came in and were really nice and that was important to me.
“I feel there will be a lot of chemistry on the team. I’ve always been a leader in high school and feel that I will continue that at the next level. I get along with my teammates and feel like that will be the same in college.”
During her career at Gallia Academy — both the track and cross country course — Starnes coach was Todd May, who noted Cassidy’s leadership.
“The respect I have for her is being able to change gears,” said May. “She did cross country because it was a good fall sport for her. She was a great leader for the girls. She was my captain for the team. She had the guts to come to another sport and instantly I made her a captain because she was such a great leader.
“Cassidy has the ability to be a good teammate. She’s quite a leader and helps make sure her teammates do the right thing. She’s just continually gotten better and continually cuts her times. She’s tough and just a good person.”
In addition to her success on the course, Starnes was also a member of the Gallipolis FFA chapter since her freshman year, LEO club, served as the senior class secretary at GAHS, and is also involved in her church youth group.
When asked about her favorite memory of high school track, Starnes reflected back to when she broke her first personal record of her senior season.
“When I broke a personal record for the first time Coach May ran up to me after,” Starnes said. “He said God works in mysterious ways. That meant a lot to me because softball had always been my life. To see his face and knowing I had another sport I could do meant a lot to me.”
Along with her athletic achievements Starnes also thrived in the classroom, carrying a 3.6 grade point average in all honors and AP classes.
Starnes plans on a Nursing major with the goal to work as a nurse before continuing her education in the field.
“I am not afraid of a challenge,” Starnes said. “I had to grow up at a really young age. I had to take charge my sixth grade year because my mom had a back surgery was bedridden for almost a year straight. I had to take care of things around the house. I know what it’s like to overcome adversity. I feel like I can help and relate to others and help them overcome their own challenges.”
Scott Jones can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext 2106.