By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (April 7, 2016) — It was ironic the conversation took place standing just outside the fence along the third base line at McCleskey Field as Stephenville took over sole possession of first place in the 6-4A district softball race.
Ironic because softball is one of the few sports Bayleigh Chaviers isn’t a dominant factor in at Stephenville. Not that she couldn’t be, says Alan Thorpe, who coached Chaviers in basketball.
The conversation between Thorpe and a friend went something like this:
“The thing about Bayleigh is she’s such a natural talent at anything she picks up. I could take her down to the golf course and teach her a basic swing and putting motion and I think she could go out and shoot 86 her first round,” said Thorpe.
Sounds tough, but rest assured, he wasn’t kidding.
Chaviers, unlike many other great female athletes to pass through Stephenville High School, had an ironclad future athletic hall of fame resume by the end of her sophomore year. She was already a two-time track and field state champion in the girls 800 meter, for starters, and was already making an impact on the girls basketball and soccer programs.
Being such a versatile athlete and busy year round with different sports, the hardest part of a Wednesday afternoon interview for the talented senior was wrapping her head around the concept of free time.
“I really don’t have free time. Sports is all I do,” Chaviers said slowly before adding. “I like to watch Netflix, and I like hanging out with my friends and going to eat.”
She’s perfectly fine with her time being consumed by athletics.
“I like being in all different sports,” said Chaviers. “Mostly, I like getting to know and being friends with teammates who are all different types of people.”
As much as it seems the 800 would be Chaviers’ signature event at SHS, it’s soccer that has always had her heart. And it’s soccer she will be playing collegiately at Miami (Fla). She impressed Miami coaches enough to earn an offer during her sophomore year and was quick to verbally commit to the Hurricanes.
“I can’t wait to start the fall season in Miami. I chose it because they have a good four-year nursing program,” said Chaviers, who recently signed her national letter of intent. “I really like the campus there, and the beach plays a factor, too. I love the beach and its really close to school, so I know I will be spending a lot of time there.”
Chaviers never wavered for a moment after picking Miami. In fact, she doesn’t waver from much of anything. She maintains a rigorous competitive soccer schedule outside school, yet remains committed to her SHS teams.
“I don’t like to back out of anything. Once I make up my mind, I’m pretty set on what I want,” said Chaviers. “I don’t ever want to disappoint anyone, so I try to stay committed to everything I do.”
Like playing with her lifelong friends.
“This is my school and my friends and we’re really close, especially this year because we’re mostly seniors,” said Chaviers. “Going to Stephenville, I wouldn’t want to pick another school because the teachers and coaches and everyone are really great. We want to win for us but we also want to win for Stephenville.”
Chaviers and the Bees have done nothing to disappoint the City of Champions, winning a district championship then outscoring three playoff opponents by a combined tally of 11-0. Chaviers herself had two unassisted goals and assisted on a third in a 3-0 win over rival Brownwood Tuesday at Lem Brock Field.
But she knows a much more competitive bout lies ahead as Stephenville visits defending state champ and top-ranked Kennedale in a Region I-4A semifinal at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“I know they have three really good players and I’m sure they work together as a team,” said Chaviers. “I just hope that we keep playing together well the way we have been, and that we beat them.”
The winner faces Melissa or Abilene Wylie in the regional final at 11 a.m. Saturday, also in Kennedale, with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
The regional final and state tournament are the only playoff rounds the Stephenville girls have never reached.
“Getting there would be great because it’s something we’ve always worked for. Starting with my freshman year I thought we were pretty good and we have just gotten better since I’ve been here,” she said. “We’ve come together as a team and we play together.”