"A solid golfer, but a wonderful person." That's how Hayesville High School golfing coach Bryan Hedden described senior Jala Stamey in his remarks to open Stamey's signing ceremony. On Tuesday, Jan. 19, Stamey, a member of the 2019 All-WNC team, signed her letter of intent to continue her career with Truett-McConnell University in Cleveland, Ga.
Stamey first took to the links with her father Jeff when she was in second grade. "He took me out with him and I was hooked," Stamey said. "I loved it and I've been playing ever since.
After qualifying for the 1A/2A West Regional tournament and the 1A/2A NCHSAA State tournament in her first three years, Hedden, who describes himself as her biggest cheerleader, fully expects Stamey to quailify for the post-season events again this year. Due to changes in the schedule caused by COVID-19, her season will not start until March with the state championship taking place in May.
She might have to wait a bit longer, but Stamey says she's ready. "It's just such a relief to have certainty moving forward," she said. "I've been worried about what will happen if we lose the season, but now I know I'm still going to be able to play at the next level.
The story of how she ended up on Truett-McConnel coach Steve Patton's radar is an interesting one. "It was definitely a God thing," Stamey said. "I was at a tournament back in June and met him and the conversation grew from there and here we are today," she said with a smile. "I'm so thankful to God for giving me the talent and this opportunity, my parents and family for always supporting me and Coach Hedden for cheering me on," commented Stamey as she looked around at the continuing celebration.
In her senior season, Stamey will no doubt be a front-runner for the Smoky Mountain Conference player of the year as well as the Western Regional team. "My goal this season is to make it to state and end up somewhere in the top five," she said. "Obviously the goal is a state championship, but being in the top five would be great."
Playing at the collegiate level doesn't give Stamey anxiety nor do the classes on her agenda as she pursues a degree in Business Administration. She is anxious about "being a small fish in a much bigger pond." Before moving on to her next chapter in Georgia, Stamey and her lone teammate Madison Logan will take try to be the duo that shocks North Carolina.