Hernandez a Heisman hopeful

DeRon Talley
Senior Kayla Hernandez is a State Finalist for the Wendy's Heisman Award.

Just as the collegiate Heisman is known for being the highest award in college football, the Wendy's High School Heisman, now in its 19th year, is one of the most prestigious awards at the high school level. Twenty of Louisiana's top scholar athletes were announced on Oct. 30 as State Finalists for the award. Of those 20, Donaldsonville High School senior Kayla Hernandez found her name in the mix to become the State Winner.

Hernandez, who has a 4.0 grade point average and is a softball and volleyball player, said she was excited when she got nominated for the award is looking forward to hearing the State Winners.

The award recognizes outstanding high school seniors nationwide who excel in athletics, academics and community leadership.

"I think I became a better person from just participating in sports," Hernandez said. "It's hard at first to keep your grades up, but you learn how to maintain it."

Hernandez credits both her parents and coaches for her success in the classroom, on the playing fields and in life.

"Without my parents to expound on me to do (well) in school and do what I want to do I wouldn't be where I'm at today," she said. "The coaching staff also has your back, keeping you focused and motivated."

Her mother, Nicole, and father, Buddy, are both Donaldsonville natives and are proud of their daughter's success. But according to Kayla parents, the success she has earned stems from herself. They only supplied the genes.

"She works hard and I'm real proud of her going all the way pushing herself to that extreme," said Buddy, who works in construction. "She strives hard to be a straight a student is very athletic.

Both parents agree that the athletic genes run in the family's blood. Buddy played football and baseball and Nicole played softball in their younger years.

Nicole said, "She is a wonderful child and student and I can't be more proud of her, very excited."

According to Nicole, as a student Kayla has pretty much reached that success on her own since she was a young child.

"Since she was little she would come home ready to do her homework and she's been excited about school from a young age and she's just continued with that. I really can't take credit for it," Nicole said, "She does it herself."

During her four years at DHS, Kayla has built a program and also seen a program go through several changes. The volleyball program was started during her freshman year when head coach Darlene Ourso implemented the sport at the school, and as a member of the softball team, she has seen a different coach each year. Fortunately for Kayla she had been playing softball since she was four years old.

"It's hard having a different coach every year, but you learn to be able to handle what is thrown at you," said Kayla, who has been captain of the softball team since her sophomore year, "but once you get the mindset and have passion for one thing you learn how to maneuver with the different changes."

Kayla talked about the great coaching staff at DHS and she believes their main focus is to make sure student-athletes stay in school and keep grades on top. She said you have to be able to juggle school and athletics at the same time.

DHS has been a school mixed with negative connotations, but in the past month it has been receiving good attention for success in the classroom. Kayla adds to the good news at DHS with her honor.

"I think having so much talent for such a small town says a lot about the community," Kayla said.

Nicole added about Kayla, "Anything she wants to do she will accomplish."