For many, starting a new school senior year seems like a daunting prospect. The unfamiliarity of the new environment and teachers is somewhat amplified by Hylton’s 2,500 student population. This transition may be easier, however, if your father is the principal of the school. This just so happens to be the case for Joel Cassady, number 64, an unstoppable senior left tackle on the Hylton football team.
Joel was home-schooled up until high school by his mother, Gloria Cassady. In ninth grade, he transferred to Grace Preparatory school, a small private Christian school in North Stafford, where the class size was around 11-13 students.
Joel decided to make the switch from a quaint private academy to the hustle and bustle of Hylton for multiple reasons.
“I wanted to come to a bigger school to prepare myself for class sizes in college,” said Joel.
Other than the strive to become accustomed to larger class sizes in college, another perhaps more all-encompassing goal of Joel’s in coming to Hylton, was to pursue his lifelong dream of playing football. Although many have the same sentiment, it takes on another meaning for Cassady. When he was merely two years old, he had a golf ball sized tumor removed from his cerebellum. This surgery did not prevent him from playing baseball or basketball, but he never considered playing football due to its reputation as an aggressive sport known to cause brain contusions.
However, as Joel grew to be a hulking figure standing at 6’6” and over 300 pounds, the thought of playing football seemed to be a natural fit for him. He brought the issue up to his parents. Although they were initially concerned about the health and safety of their son, they ended up supporting him wholeheartedly.
“[My parents] weren’t surprised when I told them I wanted to play football. They were more surprised about the time of when I asked. It was nearing the end of the school year, after football season had ended, so they didn’t really expect it, but they weren’t surprised,” said Joel.
By the arrival of the summer, Joel was working with Hylton coaches to get him prepared for the season.
“I chose to come here because my dad worked here. Because I knew the administration, I think it was easier for me to come into this school than any other school.”
One might have a natural apprehension about attending a school in which your parent is the principal, but Joel says it never posed a problem for him.
“Sometimes [other students] make some jokes don’t really treat me any differently”
So far, Hylton seems to be a right fit for Joel, as he is rapidly making friends and even participated in the homecoming spirit week.
“My favorite part about Hylton? That’s a hard one because I really just like the whole school. The teachers here are really great. I think that’s mostly the reason why I enjoy it so much, because the classes are enjoyable. I can’t really pinpoint one thing that makes it amazing.”
As for football, the main reason Joel made the choice to come to public school, the Hylton Varsity Football team pushed through another good season, with a record of 6 wins and 3 losses as of October 31. The varsity football team’s senior night was held on Thursday, October 25, where Joel was walked down by his parents, David and Gloria Cassady.
“Senior night was fun. We did everything before the game so it was kind of weird not having anyone in the stands, but as far as the game atmosphere, it was a lot of fun overall.”
Joel seems to be reaping in the rewards and experiences of his first and last year in public high school. He is currently looking at Liberty University, Campbell University and the University of North Carolina to study something in pastoral leadership.
“If I get the opportunity, I definitely want to play [football].”