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Hartselle Enquirer

Layla’s a softball girl 

By Clif Knight 

Our only great-granddaughter, Layla Fullerton, is a high-achieving second-grader with an artistic bent and an insatiable appetite for athletic pursuits. She has already breezed through a pre-kindergarten class at First Baptist Church in Hartselle, kindergarten and first grade at Crestline Elementary School and her first year in Hartselle’s youth basketball program.  

Now her eyes are focused on the summer softball league, in which she is competing on an 8U team. 

Geanell and I were blessed to be Layla’s part-time caretakers during her early childhood. We changed her diapers and applauded her as she worked her way through potty training. We marveled at how fast she could dash from room to room in our 10-room house, picking up objects she was told not to touch, or become so lost in watching a cartoon that she was oblivious to what else was going on around her.  

We observed her temper flare up when she was scolded for exhibiting bad behavior and watched her sulk when she was denied a request.  

At other times, we admired her spunk, determination and ingenuity. 

Our experience as parents and grandparents led us to wonder how well Layla would adjust to school. We saw how her ability to function with other children improved greatly after she enrolled in a pre-kindergarten program.  

We also know she has a stubborn streak and can let her mouth and emotions get her in trouble from time to time. 

Layla is not the first one in her family to have a mind of her own. 

Her cousin Meaghan Gray was a bundle of unbridled energy when she was a child. As a toddler, she was caught swinging on a ceiling fan by her babysitter. She tasted everything she could get her hands on and became a poster child for Alabama Poison Control. She rode her wheeled toys with wild abandon and tested a bike helmet by riding off an embankment to see if the helmet worked.  

Luckily, she developed a fondness for her first-grade teacher and got on track in her education. She channeled her energy and focused it on becoming an outstanding high school and college softball pitcher. She earned a degree in special education and is now a special education teacher and softball coach at Decatur High School. 

Perhaps their great-grandfather planted the seed for their stroke of self-determination when he skipped school opening day in 1941. Instead of getting on the bus with his older sister, he slipped away into the woods and spent the day climbing trees and throwing rocks at anything that moved. 

What do these three have in common?  

All three are left-handed and have minds of their own.