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Seniors 2020: West Hall's Shirley carries passion for volleyball to two sports at Huntingdon College
Spartans standout will do both indoor and beach volleyball for Division-III Hawks
Cadie Shirley
West Hall's Cadie Shirley returns the ball during a 2019 match in Oakwood. Photo courtesy Rachel Lawley

Cadie Shirley enjoys blazing her own path in life. 

She’s found her passion for the future — short-term and long-term — and now it’s full speed ahead. 

A 2020 West Hall High graduate, she’s not unique for going on to play sports in college. Being talented enough for two sports, however, makes Shirley an athlete who is few and far between. 

Shirley’s one of a kind as an incredibly talented athlete in a 5-foot, 11-inch frame and possesses non-stop work ethic. In the fall, Shirley will utilize her dominating skillset as a volleyball player to be a member of the indoor volleyball and beach volleyball programs at Division-III Huntingdon College, a private school comprised of stately buildings, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Not only is Shirley looking forward to honing her skills in both sports but chasing her dream of majoring in criminal justice, attending law school and becoming a prosecuting attorney.

As soon as Shirley found Huntingdon College, she knew there was no doubt that would be where she wanted to spend the next four years, despite not knowing any other students at the illustrious school, which is located about 200 miles from her home in south Hall. 

The list of distinguished graduates of Huntingdon College include the famed novelist and author of To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee, and former US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 

“As soon as I found Huntingdon, I loved it,” said Shirley. “It’s like a little Harvard.”

Right away, Shirley wants to make a splash on the indoor volleyball season, which is similar to what she played for Spartans and a number of club teams. However, it’s beach volleyball that really gets her athletic juices flowing. Beach volleyball is a two-player version of the traditional game, where athleticism and ball placement are even more vital. 

Shirley’s record for success is extensive at West Hall. 

Not only was she an elite volleyball talent, but also played basketball through her sophomore year. In volleyball, the outside hitter had a hand in all phases of the game and led the Spartans to the 2019 playoffs after a thrilling upset against Denmark in the Area 7-4A tournament. 

She also helped get West Hall over the finish line with a come-from-behind, five-set win in the regular season against eventual state quarterfinalist Cherokee Bluff.

“Cadie has a very high volleyball IQ and works extremely hard,” West Hall coach Rachel Lawley said. 

The West Hall standout has a long history on the volleyball court. She took it up at in instructional level in fifth grade and was immediately pegged as one of the best players for her coordination, hitting, passing and serving. 

However, Shirley can credit Lawley for getting involved in the game on the sand. 

For three years, West Hall’s coach was telling Shirley about the outdoor game and how it might be a good fit. 

However, she said no the first few times, opting to play volleyball in the fall and with club teams, then basketball in the winter. 

Finally, in 2019, Shirley decided to give it a whirl, going out for the Atlanta Extreme squad that plays out of Suwanee. After two practices, she was hooked. 

She’s paired to play with Lakeview Academy’s Mary Michael Callahan, a rising senior, after finding good playing chemistry and styles that compliment one another. 

Her indoor volleyball prowess has also carried Shirley to play for the A5 National Team, based out of Gwinnett County. Her junior year, Shirley was constantly zigzagging nearby states to play against the top talent. Much of her school work was done online but had the full support of the faculty at West Hall, Shirley said. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic, Shirley has been back on the sand playing since early in May. Her training was at a premium during the lockdown, focusing on leg and shoulder strengthening, as well as running to keep a good cardiovascular base.

Playing multiple volleyball seasons is a clear variation from the norm. However, Shirley wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s chasing a dream. 

“We’re all so proud of Cadie,” Lawley said. “She left her mark at West Hall”.

On top of sports, Cadie wants to be a lawyer in high-stress situations, trying to put away defendants who are facing time in prison. 

She found the passion for the law when as a 10-year-old, Cadie watched with her father, Shawn, the 1996 movie ‘A Time to Kill’ that starred Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock and Samuel L. Jackson. 

It’s going to be a busy next four years playing both college volleyball sports, mixed with a rigorous academic workload. 

However, Shirley thrives on the challenge. 

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