PORTSMOUTH — Managing time is one of the most critical skills that a college student has to develop and continue to refine over the course of their journey — especially if the college student in question plans on being a four-year student-athlete.
Shawnee State women’s tennis player Katelyn Pauley, both from a time management perspective and from a standpoint of pure enthusiasm, has certainly set herself up for success.
The native of Louisa, Ky., who posted a highly successful career at Lawrence County High School in both soccer and tennis with the Bulldogs, is simply thrilled to continue her tennis career at the collegiate level for a university that she is passionate about representing.
“I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to play tennis at Shawnee State,” Pauley said. “Being a collegiate student-athlete is always something that I dreamed of and worked toward, so it is amazing to see that hard work pay off.”
At Lawrence County, Pauley was part of a great stretch of talent inside both programs.
A defender playing for a program in the midst of the school’s greatest runs in the sport of soccer, Pauley led Lawrence County to the 58th District championship in each of her four seasons — to go along with three 15th Region championship appearances, two 15th Region championships, and two KHSAA Semi-State Eight appearances.
The Lady Bulldogs went 70-13-3 during Pauley’s time with the program.
However, as beneficial as Pauley’s leadership was from a soccer standpoint, her talent was even more pronounced on the tennis court.
Despite not picking up a tennis racket in competitive form until her freshman year of high school, Pauley contributed to three consecutive 15th Region championships while qualifying for the KHSAA state tournament in her junior and senior seasons — and advancing to the KHSAA State Tennis Tournament’s Second Round in both years under Cindy Hay.
“The growth of the soccer program at Lawrence County can be accredited to the devoted coaching staff as well as the players,” Pauley said. “The two coaches that I had during my high school soccer career, Kyle Sniatecki and Heath Webb, taught me many life lessons — mainly that nothing comes easy. Many hours of training and hard work go into championships and trophies. I had played soccer my whole life, but I didn’t start playing tennis until my freshman year,” Pauley said. “One of the coaches at the time, Chad Williams, encouraged me to try out for the team. Without him, I would have never realized my love and passion for tennis. Kelli Dixon, Cindy Hay and Cassandra Webb were also wonderful coaches who made me into the player that I am today. The experience playing sports at Lawrence County was something that I will never forget.”
Along with her success athletically, Pauley proved to be exceptional in the classroom.
In addition to doing written composition for Lawrence County’s academic team, Pauley served as the secretary of her graduating class, was a member of the school’s BETA Club, and was recognized as WSAZ News Channel 3’s Best of the Class upon her graduation.
“I loved my experience,” Pauley said. “It was great to grow up in such a tight-knit community. My high school had amazing teachers that really cared about the success of their students. My superintendent, (Robbie) Fletcher, and community members did a phenomenal job of always supporting the teams at Lawrence County. My coaches and teammates at Lawrence County became my family. My high school had the motto, ‘All in LC,’ so it inspired me to put 110-percent effort into tennis, soccer and academics.”
Due to her ability in tennis, and her potential as a quick study who had made multiple state tournament appearances despite only playing the game for four seasons, Pauley was able to receive attention to play the sport as a student-athlete at the collegiate level.
However, after watching SSU compete against Pikeville, the choice of where to go became more evident — especially as Pauley saw Boone’s dedication to and understanding of his student-athletes’ work from an academic perspective.
“My high school tennis team watched Shawnee State compete against Pikeville,” Pauley said. “The team dynamic was very evident from the start, and I liked that a great deal. I also liked (Steve) Boone’s coaching style. I went on a visit during my junior year, and fell in love with the campus. I met Coach Boone and I could tell that he was very passionate about the team. He made it evident that he valued academics and that stood out to me compared to other college coaches.”
Since making the transition to the college game, Pauley has continued to maintain a high standard of excellence.
In the classroom, she has over 50 hours of academic credit already to her name — and a 3.58 GPA to boot.
On the tennis court, Pauley played at the team’s No. 5 singles slot and its No. 3 doubles position throughout the fall season.
SSU was only able to get two matches in during its planned spring schedule due to COVID-19.
However, Pauley is thrilled for what the next three seasons will hold for her and the program, as well as the challenges that are sure to come as a result of the competition that’s present both inside and outside of the Mid-South Conference.
“Competing at the collegiate level is a lot different than high school,” Pauley said. “The competition is much harder, and each match is a challenge. With this being said, competing at Shawnee State has made me a different player because the competition level is so high. My teammates have made my transition to college a lot easier. They have made me feel very welcome, and I know that they are always rooting for my success. It is awesome to play a sport with people who are just as passionate as you are. My teammates push me to be better and always keep me laughing.”
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