Editor’s note: This is the third installment in a six-part series of stories on DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame scholarship winners. The organization awarded six $1,000 scholarships to DeKalb County senior student-athletes. The six seniors will be honored during the induction ceremony of the DeKalb County Sports Hall of Fame’s 2020 class at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 29 at DeKalb County Schools Coliseum in Rainsville. In Part 3, The Times-Journal features Valley Head’s Bailee Carter.
FORT PAYNE — Valley Head senior Bailee Carter set her mind to accomplishing a series of challenges as a student-athlete.
She wanted to reach 1,000 career points as a varsity player, and she did — as a junior.
She wanted to help the Valley Head girls basketball team advance past the sub-regional round of the state playoffs for the first time in her high school career, and she did.
The next major item on her list is to continue her basketball career at the collegiate level, and with an accepted athletic scholarship from Gadsden State Community College in play, she’ll conquer that goal this upcoming basketball season.
“It’s one of the best feelings,” Carter said of continuing her basketball career. “It was worth all the hardship I’ve gone through playing basketball. I’m just very blessed to receive a full-ride (scholarship). Not many people get full rides. It’s hard to do.”
Carter said she got in touch with Gadsden State women’s basketball coach Bryan Phillips and received a message from him one day, offering her a scholarship to come play for his program.
It was an easy decision for Carter.
“I’ve wanted to play college basketball ever since I started playing basketball,” she said.
Carter said she plans to follow the career path of Valley Head girls basketball coach Jamie Vest, whom she said she’s always admired. Vest teaches health at Valley Head High School in addition to leading the school’s varsity girls basketball program.
Carter said she also plans to major in health education and wants to teach and coach at the high school level.
Carter joined the varsity girls basketball team for the first time as an eighth-grader and became a starter.
“(Vest) was very good at motivating me, making me feel like I’m capable of anything,” Carter said.
Said Vest: "Bailee has always been a very dominant ball player and has always been someone that we have looked to for scoring for several years. Players like Bailee who have lots of natural talent are sometimes not easy to coach, but Bailee has always been a very easy player to coach. I would tell her what I needed from her and never had to worry that she wouldn't do what I asked.
"Bailee has been so much fun to coach and after coaching her for so long, it's going to be different not having her next season."
The Valley Head girls advanced to the regional round of the basketball postseason this season for the first time in Carter’s varsity career. Carter and the Tigers went 4-2 in Class 1A, Area 14 and defeated Lindsay Lane Christian Academy in the state sub-regional round. They advanced to the regional round at Jacksonville State and ended their season with a loss against Talladega County Central and a 13-11 overall record.
“At first it was a rollercoaster ride,” Carter said of the Tigers’ start to the basketball season. “We were so inconsistent. I wanted to go all the way my last year, but what really stood out to me was the work and dedication all the young girls were putting in. We had a very young team. We had four seniors.”
With her high school basketball days behind her, Carter’s focused on what lies ahead at Gadsden State.
To help keep herself ready for the start of college basketball season, Carter has been running around her block near Valley Head High School and performing at-home workouts. She’s also worked to keep her shooting sharp by practicing on the basketball goal at her house.
“Since the gyms have opened up, I recently got a membership and I’ve been working out there every day,” Carter said.