DOBSON — Three-sport star Cassidy Joyner has signed a letter of intent to play basketball for Division II college Lenoir-Rhyne.
Asked how she chose basketball over softball and volleyball, Cassidy said, “I love it. It’s my favorite sport.”
“I am so excited for her, and it is so well deserved,” Coach Mandy Holt said of her senior. “This is a goal she set early on, and she has done all the extra things necessary to achieve it. … She strives to get better. She works on this all year round.”
Over the past three years, Holt has seen Cassidy get stronger in the weight room and train at improving her footwork.
While she isn’t as outspoken as some players have been, Cassidy has been an awesome leader by example, the coach said. On the day she made her announcement, Cassidy refused to leave the gym that evening until she had made 10 straight free throws.
“There’s a lot that goes into getting a scholarship, and I am proud and happy that I got to be a part of it,” Holt said.
Before Cassidy ever played her first high school game, Holt knew she had a talented freshman from watching middle school games and pickup games over the summer.
As a freshman, Cassidy was named the team’s best offensive player. As a sophomore she was named team MVP, then she shared the award with Courtney Hegler last year.
Cassidy was named an honorable mention in volleyball as a freshman, but she has made the first team in all three sports each season since then.
As a sophomore, she was named to the all-district third team for basketball. As a junior, she was all-district and all-state in softball and played in the Powerade state games over the summer.
She reached her 1,000th career point as a junior and likely will finish as one of the highest scorers in school history.
She has developed into an all-around player, Holt said. Cassidy had a nice jumper from day one, but has worked to be a better all-around scorer and a good defensive player and a leader of the team.
No one can deny Cassidy’s toughness. She might get all dolled up to accept the homecoming queen title, but she also has earned stitches a few times for diving after loose balls.
Cassidy had to toughen up early if she wanted to join her big sister Whitney on sports teams, noted dad Donald.
“When she was in the third grade, she was playing sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders,” said Donald. “She got to learn what it was like to get knocked around a little bit.”
When Cassidy would get hurt, Donald would feel terrible for her, but would act like it was no big deal so she would understand that getting hurt is part of sports.
In a game last year, Cassidy dove for a ball going out near the scorer’s table. She hit her chin and opened up a gash.
If the trainer could have gotten the bleeding to stop, Cassidy was ready to go back in the game, Donald said.
In her playing days, she has suffered two cuts to her chin and a broken nose.
She had a tournament in Nashville earlier this year for AAU basketball, Donald said.
“When we were driving in, I said, ‘Look, Cass, there’s the hospital so I know where to go to get a couple of stitches put in.’ An hour later, she got gashed.”
An accidental head butt to the eye required seven stitches to close.
“Her eye was pretty nasty,” said Donald. The blood splattered the floor, creating a circle about a yard across.
Cassidy, with a 4.3 GPA, is still exploring her options for a major, but believes Lenoir-Rhyne is the right fit regardless.
“When I went there to visit, I fell in love with the coaching staff,” Cassidy said. “The team, they bonded like they were sisters. The campus was beautiful. And I thought that I would have a good future there because the competition is tough and they’ve been successful in the past.”
As for what impressed Lenoir-Rhyne’s coaches, Cassidy said, “They like that whether we’re losing or winning, I still give the same amount of effort. I’m determined to have my hands on the ball and put the ball in the hole. They think I’m going to be a big contributor to the team.”
She will have a friend awaiting her in Mount Airy graduate Jordan Hiatt.
Cass played AAU with Jordan and won a tournament in Kentucky, said Donald.
“We text constantly, and I’ll tell her good luck before every game day,” Cassidy said.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or 719-1920.