ROAN MOUNTAIN, Tenn. (WJHL)- In our digital series ‘High School Standouts,’ Digital Sports Reporter Michael Epps features local athletes with incredible talent, hoping to take that talent to the next level.
These are athletes that stand out both on and off the field.
This week’s High School Standout is Heaven Caraway, a senior girls basketball player at Cloudland High School.
“It’s been crazy, haven’t been through anything like this before,” Cloudland girls basketball senior Heaven Caraway said.
Even through this pandemic, Cloudland basketball powers through.
“People don’t see that, you know, basketball means a lot to us so as long as everyone’s doing their part and just staying healthy and wearing their mask and hand sanitizing it’s gonna go good and hopefully we’ll have out season,” Caraway said.
Caraway is making sure her team does the right things to stay healthy.
“We come in before every practice, take temperatures before games or anything Matt takes temperatures and wherever we go we wear a mask and hand sanitizer as always,” Caraway said.
“So we can play on the court everyone mask up that’s her favorite saying everyone mask up so we’re doing that and she caring for everyone around her as far as taking care of them,” Cloudland head girls basketball coach Heaven Caraway said.
She’s looking out for her teammates as a player, but also as a future nurse. In May, Caraway took her CNA test to try and become a Certified Nurse Assistant.
“In our school you have to be 17 or a junior to take the CNA and it was really tough but all the studying paid off,” Caraway said.
She passed the adult test as a junior in high school and is now a licensed CNA.
“I was relieved, we just went home and my mamaw bought us chocolate strawberries and we ate them all went to town,” Caraway said.
“It’s good to have somebody licensed during a pandemic so it’s good to have somebody like that,” Birchfield said.
She’s not the only one. Teammate Jasmine Birchfield got her CNA license too, while Mandy Benfield and Lead Birchfield just took their tests earlier in December, so they could have four Certified Nurse Assistants on the team!
“Having kids that are self-motivated, wanting to be successful in life they’re gonna work hard in practice so we don’t have to worry about that and that’s a big thing to say about them and what kind of kids I’ve got,” Birchfield said.
“I want to be able to help people because I know when I’m older at that age I’ll need help and it’s good to give back to the community especially for the people that can’t take care of themselves like in nursing homes,” Caraway said.
“It just proved by getting that CNA license that she wants to go off the court and help people and she wants to help her teammates when she’s on the court and she’s helping other kids tutoring in the classroom if they need it and of course now she has a CNA so she can help anybody out just another characteristic of having a caring heart,” Birchfield said.
This group of future nurses can focus on basketball for now; they will be key to the Lady Highlanders’ success this season, especially Caraway.
“Good perspective out on the court like get the team going make sure everyone’s doing what they’re supposed to be a positive voice and get everyone upbeat,” Caraway said.
“She’s our point guard she’s a good leader for us she’s started for two years now you talk about a kid that plays hard loves the game has a big heart has a lot of passion for playing and wants to be successful,” Birchfield said.
Caraway will study nursing and continue her basketball career at Belmont Abbey College, a Division-II school in North Carolina.
“It’s pretty awesome especially coming out of a 1-A school it’s gonna be tough leaving after this year and I’ll be by myself so it’ll be kinda scary but I’m excited,” Caraway said.
“That was her goal when she came in as a freshman was to make it to the next level and it takes a lot of hard work lot of sweat,” Birchfield said.
Her motivation will turn fuel into fire on the Cloudland court this season.
“We’re a small team but I think we impress a lot of people for how small we are and people don’t understand that we’re just a 1-A school we don’t get to pick and choose who gets to play we play with what talent we’ve got and we play our hearts out,” Caraway said.
“If you could coach kids like her you’d coach until the day you die cause she just has that model of hard work and doing what you ask as a coach,” Birchfield said.
Follow this series throughout the year as WJHL’s Michael Epps finds the High School Standout every week on WJHL.com.