By Thomas Sellers Jr.
But the first BHS student/athlete to ink a letter of intent for the 2019-20 school year provided the veteran coach with a first. Surrounded by family, friends and teammates, Brighton Lady Cardinal Softball standout Caylee Comer was ready to make it official her plans to attend Northwest Community College.
Among those celebrating the moment was Coach Comer. Caylee was happy to share the moment with her younger brother Will, mother Heather and her coach/dad.
“It’s something she’s been wanting to do since she was 10 years old,” Coach Comer said. “She started playing competitive travel ball and said one day I want to play college ball.
“She’s just a natural athlete,” he added. “She had a passion for the game. I’ve always told her she has to put everything into it. She’s always done that.”
Comer’s everything made her one of the leading hitter for Head Coach Robin Jacobs Lady Cardinals. She’s a dependable glove in the infield and has sharpen her skills on the diamond with travel ball including time with the newly formed Easley Baseball/Softball Club.
“I coached her up until she was 14,” Jamie recalled. “Usually I was hard on her and wanted her to do the best she could do. But I could see she always wanted to do the best she could do.
“It was nothing I could say that was really going to help that situation,” he continued. “She knew when she messed up and it was then I began to step back from it. ‘You understand what you’ve done wrong and how to correct it. You don’t’ really need me there to harp on the bad things you’ve done.’”
Caylee became a student of the game with hours of work in the cage, studying film and putting in time on the practice field. She is now among the best home run hitters in school history with 24 heading into her senior season. There along the way to make sure coach and player/ father and daughter got along was Heather.
“I had to be ugly at times,” she acknowledged. “I had to be ugly with both of them at times and get in the middle. It has been a battle.
“But it has all been worth it because they would together in the end,” Heather added. “They knew it was tough love always meant to make the other one better and understand. But I had to get in the middle and be the referee.”
Caylee recalls mom also being there for reinforcement on her dad’s lessons.
“She sits me down and she’s very blunt,” Caylee said. “She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She’ll tell me, ‘You’re not working like you need to. So go out there and work.’ I’ll work and she’s just the biggest motivator. She’s the biggest person that pushes me and she’s the best.”
Caylee added her dad’s tough love was best for her reaching her dreams of playing college softball.
“We definitely had a lot of ups and downs,” she said. “It wasn’t always the happiest of times but it really did help our relationship out for the long run. We are very close now.
“He was my coach and a lot of kids can’t say that,” Caylee continued. “It’s a lot different from dad to coach. It’s completely different. Dad is like, ‘Oh you’re doing good. You’re doing great.’ Coach is like, ‘Oh you suck.’ He’s going to be the hardest on his own kid. He doesn’t like to show favoritism.”
Coach Comer could easily admit the signing on November 1, 2019 was his favorite.
“I’m really excited and can’t wait to see how much she’s going to grow being with Coach Chelsea Bramlett,” he said. “Chelsea is known for getting girls hitting and that’s Caylee’s strength. So I can’t wait to see her go to that next level and get her to where she wants to be.”
Heather said moving Caylee to organized softball to play with competition equal and superior to her skill level was a good investment that landed her on the roster of Coach Bramlett. Bramlett was a standout in high school and set records at Mississippi State.
“I have 100 percent faith in Chelsea Bramlett as her college coach,” Heather said. “She was a Mississippi State stud and Team USA, Hall of Famer and has a gold medal. Not many coaches have that gold medal hanging in their office. I trust her with my kid 100 percent and in every aspect of my kid’s life.”
Caylee said she is ready for the challenge of being a Lady Ranger and playing under the guidance of Bramlett.
“I can’t wait,” she said. “Everything she has to offer, she knows so much about the game. She’s such an inspiration to me. My goal is to play at Mississippi State where she played. She broke several records at Mississippi State. So it’s just an honor to be able to play for her.”
Caylee said her first coach will hold a special place in her heart forever. And hopefully Coach Comer’s lessons will help his daughter make the adjustment to the college level.
“The two things he always told her, ‘It’s two things you can always control,’” Heather said. “‘Your attitude and your effort.’ Those have been absolutely the two things she’s put into the game. It’s never been a job or work for her.
“If she got to go to softball, it was a privilege,” she concluded. “It was never a chore. She’s missed so many birthday parties or her friends are going out, she would rather be on that softball field than socializing.”