Sara King

Cleburne senior Sara King was chosen as WFAA Sportscaster Dale Hansen’s “Scholar Athlete of the Week.” The standout Lady Jacket softball player was scheduled to visit the WFAA studios Tuesday to film the segment, which is aired to run Sunday.

David Beans

Cleburne High School senior Sara King is accustomed to the bright lights, having been a softball standout for the Lady Jackets since her freshman year.

On Tuesday it was lights — along with camera and action — for King as she was interviewed by WFAA TV Sportscaster Dale Hansen as the latest honoree for his long-running Scholar Athlete of the Week feature. 

King, who is currently ranked first in her graduating class and just signed to play softball at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, visited the WFAA studios to be filmed for an upcoming Sunday segment.

The scholar athlete recognition highlights North Texas high school seniors who excel in academics and sports, as well as contribute to making their community a better place to live. Cleburne Softball Coach Kala Winn believes King is the ideal candidate for such an honor, in submitting her name to Hansen.

“Sara is an absolute jewel,” Winn said. “She is one of the most humble human beings I know. She is so gifted and we are so lucky to have her in our program. Sara has had a tremendous influence on our program through her work ethic and talents. She shows a focus and determination in her life path and inspires others around her to do the same. We are very happy to have her chosen for the Scholar Athlete honor. She is very deserving.”

King says she is excited to be selected for the honor and the opportunity.

“I’ve never been on TV before,” she said. “I’m excited — and still very surprised by the news. It’s a big opportunity and I need to make the most of it. A lot of people will be watching. I want to inspire others to see what can be done.”

Softball has been a part of King’s life since her kindergarten days. She credits her parents in giving her the choice in determining what was the best fit for her.

“When I was very young, my parents said I needed to find my hobby,” she said. “I tried dance, cheerleading, tee-ball and soccer and played volleyball and basketball in middle school. I discovered early on I really liked the competitive nature of softball and the friends I made through softball. It’s never gotten old. I am so glad my parents gave me the option of finding my passion—softball has been that for me.

“I feel like one of the main things I have gained from softball is learning to be versatile. Wherever you play, do your best. Just like in life, you have to be flexible and work as a team, with others.”

Through the years, King has played a number of positions. For the Lady Jackets, she figures she has pretty much covered all the bases and more, with the exception of first base and pitcher. She was honored as all-district and All-Johnson County utility player of the year as a junior and was also a DFW Player of the Week. She has achieved all-district and all-county recognition every season, and as a freshman and junior received all-district academic honors.

King’s desire to study nursing in college comes from a desire to help others, and a longtime interest in the workings of the human body.

“Nursing combines that,” she said. “I’ve been thinking about being a trauma nurse for quite a while. I could also major in nursing and go on to med school, as I’ve also contemplated trauma doctor or pediatrics as a career.

“I think I’m attracted by the intense atmosphere of the trauma side of medicine. Like athletics, the adrenalin is flowing, you have to think on your feet and you’re always moving.”

And just as her parents encouraged her to find the hobby that became a passion, they wanted her to find the university that she felt was the right fit. For King, it’s the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. She says having the opportunity to also compete in softball at UMHB is icing on the cake.

“I like the size of the campus and its amazing nursing school,” she said. “My first visit to the campus as a sophomore really got me excited. I’ve already had the chance to meet my roommate, who will also be playing softball, and I’ve been able to bond with the team. Mary Hardin-Baylor just clicked with me and I feel playing softball in college will connect me to friends with similar interests—and I like that team aspect.”

As one who also likes being busy and being around people, King’s involvement in her community is just as impressive as her softball and academic records. From church mission trips to service projects involving Operation Blessing, the Salvation Army Angel Tree and Meals on Wheels, King thrives on reaching out to others.

“I like being busy,” she said. “I think we should experience everything we can. I want to have stories to tell, rather than objects to own. Since I want to work with people, I need to be around people, to get to know all kinds of people. And I like making people smile.”

King also likes being challenged, judging by her list of academic recognitions and course loads through the years, including her senior schedule, which includes four advanced placement classes.

“It hasn’t come easy,” King said. “I’ve loved to read from the time I was little, and that has helped. I really like to soak up things. What is great about our senior class is that we work together — it’s not like some big competition. In taking four AP classes this year, I really wanted to work on my time management and budgeting my time, which I felt was necessary for college. But I also wanted to enjoy my last year of high school — time with friends and these final senior year experiences. I want to remember high school for everything, not just grades.”

Those senior year memories will include her last season as a Lady Jacket, as the first team to play on the new softball field.

“I’m ready for softball and we are very excited,” she said. “I want to start our new journey on the new field right now. We’re very excited about playing on turf. We think the new field will make us look good, look professional. We think people will want to come here because of new facilities like this.”

She also thinks fans will want to come back to see what the Lady Jackets will accomplish in 2018 after a season that extended into the playoffs in 2017, for the first time in 11 years.

“We want to do that again, of course,” King said. “But we want to start strong and get that ball rolling. I feel like we’re a very close team this year and the chemistry is just right. When we all use our talents together, it makes for a great effort. I’m very appreciative of what Coach Winn has done for us, as a team, and what she has done for me.”

King is a member of Student Council, National Honor Society, Exchangettes, Student Leadership and is vice-president of Beta Club. Her list of senior honors is expanding quickly, as a Wendy’s High School Heisman Scholarship honoree, which recognizes students who excel in academics and are proven role models and leaders within their school and community.

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