SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Thursday, May 12, was a day of celebration for those involved with Sylacauga High School (SHS) athletics as two seniors signed letters of intent to continue their athletic pursuits at the college level.
The first signing ceremony of the day was for Kiyla McNealey. The varsity cheerleader will continue pumping up fans next year at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville.
“I love cheering, dancing, and flipping,” McNealey said. “I love the experience with the crowd at the games. It’s just an overall good experience.”
“Kiyla makes cheerleading look easy,” said cheerleading coach Angel Butler. “She’s very gifted, very talented. I know in speaking with her parents and Kiyla that she’s dreamed about this since she was a little girl. We are very proud of her accomplishments and can’t wait to see what she does in the future.”
McNealey has cheered in the Sylacauga system since middle school, and she has made lifelong friends in those seven years doing what she loves.
“[In] my senior class, there’s seven of us,” said McNealey when asked what fond memories she’s made in her time cheerleading. “We’ve cheered together since I was in the sixth grade. I feel like we’ll always keep in touch. I love them so much. We’ve been tight ever since we met.”
McNealey plans to study kinesiology at Alabama A&M.
Just a few hours later, the media center at SHS filled with onlookers once again to see soccer standout September Bowen sign to play with the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie.
USC Salkehatchie is located in Allendale and competes in Region X of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
“She’s worked really hard to get to this point and earn this opportunity,” said head coach Nick Grogan. “I can’t say enough about her hard work and her leadership.”
Bowen was already interested in USC Salkehatchie due to its nursing program, but after the school offered her a chance to continue playing soccer at the next level, the decision became easy.
“They have an excellent nursing program,” Bowen noted of USC Salkehatchie. “They have a 100 percent pass rate on their NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) which is the big [nurse licensing] test. I just love the thought of a small campus where I can be more involved with the teachers and the other students.”
Bowen has played all over the field at different spots throughout her years in soccer — she started at the age of four — and isn’t sure where Salkehatchie coach Bill Glass will deploy her, but her personal favorite position is on the wing.
“That’s what I’m most comfortable with,” said Bowen when asked where she likes to play, “but I would be up to playing any position besides goalie. I prefer to cross the ball. I don’t really like to shoot the ball that much. I like to [provide] assists.”