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Haley Cornellison’s career has had its ups and downs over the past four years at Kingston, but Cornellison celebrated the ultimate high Friday when she signed scholarship papers with Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens.
“I’m so excited,” Cornellison said after signing with the Lady Bulldogs. “I can’t wait to go play. I couldn’t have done this on my own. I’ve been blessed to have a great support team behind me.
“I really like Tennessee Wesleyan. It has a community feel. It’s kind of like a home away from home for me. I feel like it’s a place where I’d fit in.”
“I’m happy for Haley,” Lady Jacket head coach Connie Guinn added. “I’m glad to that she’s getting to further her career while continuing her education. She’s worked extremely hard for this and I’m proud of her.”
Six months ago, however, it didn’t appear that Cornellison would be signing with Tennessee Wesleyan or any other team. She was rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn knee ligament and her senior season was in doubt. Overcoming injuries was something Cornellison was used to do doing as she fought through a broken finger during her freshman year while suffering ankle injuries in both her sophomore and junior seasons.
Some players might have given up after such a rash of injuries, but those injuries only fueled Cornellison’s fire to make it to the next level.
“I just love the game,” Cornellison said on what kept her going. “This is a way to glorify God because He has given me the ability to play this game. My injuries have made me appreciate the game even more. I always have it in my mind that any game could be my last and I try to play that way.”
“It shows her passion for the game, her character and the desire she has to do something she loves,” Guinn added. “Some players would have given up from injuries like that, but Haley loves the game too much.”
Although Cornellison’s injuries might have cost her some games in her career, she is 100 percent now and Lady Bulldog head coach Jeff Rice loves what he sees out of the Lady Jacket star. He also isn’t the least bit concerned about her knee injury; he actually thinks it tells a lot about her.
“She’s a player that can score the basketball. That’s the first thing we noticed about her,” he said. “But you can also tell she has a great work ethic and a passion for basketball or she would not have returned as quickly as she did.”
“I play hard and I don’t give up,” Cornellison added. “I’m aggressive when I’m on the court and I want the ball in my hands, but I also trust my teammates and want what’s best for the team, even if that means not having the ball.”
“Haley comes ready to play every night out and she plays hard. You can’t coach that,” Guinn said. “She’s good with the ball in her hands and she rebounds the ball well. She’s also all about the team, sometimes she’s even too unselfish.”
Cornellison’s ability and work ethic should translate into a nice career at Tennessee Wesleyan, but she knows there is still much to be done.
“I’ve got to work on pretty much every aspect of my game,” she said. “I’ve got to get better and keep improving.”
“She’s talented enough to play, she just has to learn our system and adjust to the speed of the college game,” Rice added. “But it’s the same for all freshmen. Everything is a little faster for them.”