Dawson County High School softball player Kaila Billingsley signed last week to play at the collegiate level at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
Friends, family, coaches and classmates gathered to celebrate with her on Jan. 13 in the library at DCHS.
"We are celebrating today Kaila's signing with the University of South Carolina Beaufort," said Athletic Director Grady Turner. "We are very proud of her."
Principal Richard Crumley commended Bililngsley for her efforts in the classroom, saying that is what made it all possible.
"Kaila can play anywhere on the infield, including catcher, and that will help her get on the field quickly," said Head Coach Jimmy Pruett. "She is a great team leader, I'm sure that she will be a very good college player."
"She is such a great leader and she has always been very coachable from the beginning. I had her on JV as a sophomore and she would always come to me after the game and ask what can I do better," said Coach Logan Allen.
Billingsley's grandparents said that she gives them faith in the future and that Kaila has always been successful in everything she has done.
Ryan, Kaila's dad, was initially too choked up to speak aside from thanking her for his gray hairs.
"I watched her go from not even hitting a ball and didn't know how to catch a ball to never backing down to anything and always putting in 100 percent," he said. "That was the great thing about her, even if she was put up against an obstacle that a lot of people would say forget it. She would just keep pushing through it."
Billingsley has played softball since she was 7 years old and said this was her goal.
"This was the motive behind everything," she said.
The Sand Sharks first recruited Billingsley when they saw her play in a tournament in South Carolina.
After the school expressed interest, she did some research on the program.
"Whenever I did a lot of research on the college, it was perfect place for me," she said. "Love it, perfect place. Like everything about the atmosphere, small campus, good people. 15 minutes away from the beach."
Billingsley plans to study biology and then attend school to become a physical therapist.