CAMPTON, Ky. (WYMT) - One of Wolfe County’s finest. A record breaker. A champion.
"Well that all starts with hardwork,” Wolfe County Athletic Director Robert Creech said. “The great ones that what you see, the extra effort.”
“She's always doing everything it takes to be the best,” Benny Campbell added, Wolfe County’s head softball coach.
Hailey Smith’s journey to one of the best athletes in Eastern Kentucky started early.
"I think she was third grade when we took her to Bath County to play in a game, first game she played in,” Campbell recalled. “She goes up to catch the ball. The ball takes her all the way to the ground and she comes up, and she shows the umpire the ball in the glove. And I looked at my assistant coach and I was like 'we got a player.'"
But it wasn’t just the moments on the field, but the bonds odd it that made Smith’s journey so special.
"Benny's so much more than a coach. He's someone I can go to for anything, he's more of a friend. That's how I see him along with Robert, Scott and Gary, they're the same way,” Smith said. “I know if I need anything, I can go to them. And the same way with the girls. If one of us needs each other, we're all there for each other and it's always been that way."
Smith and her teammates certainly made their mark on Wolfe County, winning the school’s first ever softball region title in 2019 to go along with All ‘A’ titles on the softball field in 2016 and 2019, and on the basketball court in 2019.
But the winning, broken records and accolades aren’t what people will miss most about Hailey. It’s the dedication and love she shows to her community.
"There's always young girls coming to our games. Just taking time to speak to them and running down after practice, before practice to the elementary school and down to the playground,” Campbell said.
Though her senior year didn’t go as planned like all seniors around the country, Smith will cherish all the memories that she’s gained along the way.
"It's not really the wins and losses I'll remember, it's the coaches and the summer slip and slides and the summer league.” Smith said. “More than the regular games, it's the big stuff."
Smith will go down as one of the best athletes in Wolfe County history. She’s in the KHSAA softball record books for multiple categories, including 2nd all-time in runs scored in state history.