ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) – Happy Valley senior Juley Nieminski has always felt a certain way with a softball bat in her hands.
“Honestly, it makes me happy to be out on the diamond,” she said.
For much of her playing career she’s roamed the outfield, and there’s one attribute she feels sets her apart.
“I have speed,” she stated.
The game has not always come easy, but Nieminski has put in the work to improve her craft as the high school competition has stiffened. That work doesn’t seem so tough, however, with her teammates beside her.
“You get an even better family than the one you had before,” she said. “You get to make new friendships and new bonds.”
It’s that same sense of team that brought her back to the sport of cheerleading last season.
“I liked having the family and friendship that I have on the team,” she explained. “I can trust them if I need their help.”
Nieminski stopped cheering for many years, taking up basketball instead. But, she had a change of heart as a junior and hopped right onto the varsity squad as a flyer.
She’s glad she did.
“I could not imagine my life without cheer again because it just made me feel happy and like I belonged,” she said.
Another place she feels at home is on the cross country course, because she not only has speed.
“I love to run,” she smiled.
It is that love that has pushed her to, not only compete on the team, but to become one of its captains.
“I want to kind of help [my teammates] get going,” she said, “and be able to help themselves get better and help younger students get better.”
Because Nieminski’s ultimate goal, whether she’s wearing a jersey or assisting members of her community, is pretty simple.
“Help the people around me that have helped me,” she said. “Give something back to them.”