BUSHNELL, Fla. — A Sumter County high school senior missed out on many precious moments on the court and on the field. But this Scholar Athlete was able to overcome an injury and return just in time to finish out her high school athletic career.

What You Need To Know

  • Cheyenne Shirley is No. 1 in line to be South Sumter's Class of 2022 valedictorian

  • The senior is enrolled in multiple Advanced Placement courses

  • Shirley has overcome multiple torn knee ligaments and a torn meniscus

  • She returned to finish the volleyball season and competes in weightlifting and softball

Cheyenne Shirley said she wants to make sure to capture every moment of her senior year at South Sumter High School.

“I know this is my last year being at high school,” Shirley said. “So a lot of things that I get to do, I won’t ever get to do again.”

The three-sport athlete excels on the court and also in the classroom. After practice, she goes straight home and does homework until she goes to sleep. And her course load is dizzying.

“AP Language and Composition, AP Calc BC this year, AP Environmental Science, AP Government & Economics, AP Biology, AP Statistics,” Shirley said, ticking off her courses.

Planning is the key to balancing academics and sports, she said.

“Definitely don’t get down on yourself,” Shirley said. “It is possible. I’ve made it work, so anybody can make it work. Ultimately though, as long as you stay ahead of your schedule and you don’t let yourself fall behind, it is so manageable.”

Right now, Shirley is currently ranked No. 1 in line to be valedictorian of South Sumter’s 2022 class.

“Not only was I able to have the sports and the fun that I wanted to have in high school, but I also was able to manage my classwork and still perform to the best of my abilities,” she said.

Allen Shirley, the principal at South Sumter, also happens to be Cheyenne’s dad.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the things that she’s done, the things she’s overcome, both personally and academically,” Allen Shirley said. “I know that she’s set herself up for success, and she’s going to do great things.”

Those obstacles Principal Shirley mentioned, included a major injury that happened during a powder puff game in the spring.

“I heard my knee just pop,” Cheyenne Shirley said. “It was very loud, and all of a sudden I collapsed. My knee completely gave out on me.”

Shirley was playing quarterback and went down with a noncontact injury - and it was as bad as they feared.

“My ACL (anterior cruciate ligament in the knee) was completely torn, along with my meniscus and MCL (medial collateral ligament) and LCL (lateral cruciate ligament),” Shirley said.

She had to wait a month to have surgery to repair her knee. Then the recovery process was grueling.

“Physical therapy was very tiring,” Shirley said. “I was going there two times a week for six months. It was a painful process, because I had to get my knee from completely locked out straight to all the way back.”

The 17-year-old missed her junior season of her favorite sport of softball. Then, seven months after blowing out her knee, Shirley was cleared to return to action.

“I was so looking forward to getting back to my regular lifestyle of playing sports, and so when I finally did get cleared, I was just so overjoyed,” Shirley said.

She made it back just in time for the end of her senior volleyball season.

“I’m very excited that I did get to come back and be a setter, which I love doing,” Shirley said.

She will compete in weightlifting and then have the chance to finish out her high school career on the softball field, doing what she loves.

“It’s going to be painful on that last game, but it’ll totally be worth it, ‘cause I get to play,” Shirley said.