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April 8, 2013

Savannah Smith: Pumping up fans as Cully the Bearcat

At just 17 years old, Savannah Smith has already accomplished so much. Savannah, a senior at Cullman High School, is an A student, on the track team, involved in her church and was also the school mascot.

Savannah moved to CHS from Vinemont High School two years ago, when her mom got a teaching job there. She had played the role as the Eagle mascot and after moving to CHS, she knew she wanted to try out to be the Bearcat. She made it and has been pumping up fans at CHS football games for the past two seasons dressed as Cully, the Bearcat.

When covered with the bearcats face, Savannah lets go of any shyness and transforms into a lovable mascot.

"It's just an adrenaline rush," she said. "I love getting people excited at the games."

Cully is a tough guy who wears his own football jersey. He even got a new suit this year.

This past year, after taking part in the University of Alabama's cheer and mascot camp, and earning all blue ribbons at camp, Savannah tried out and won the title of All-American mascot. She was invited, along with several other mascots from around the country, to perform at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. For Savannah, the performance was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"I wasn't really nervous," she said. "Everything's impromptu, so you don't really have time to get nervous. Each mascot has its own character."

Not only does Savannah turn into Cully each Friday night in the fall, but in the spring she is an award-winning javelin thrower.

In her ninth- and tenth-grade years, she earned second in the state for javelin, even keeping her ranking moving from a 3A to a 5A school.

"The competition was a lot harder, so I was really glad I was able to stay second in the state."

She took an interest in javelin throwing while in the ninth grade. It didn't take long to see she was good, so she stuck with it. Savannah has taken over the school record at 120.4 feet, which is also her personal best. She is hoping she will see even further distances this track season. Her goal is to throw 140 feet by the time she graduates, hoping that will allow her to earn a scholarship at a Division I school.

Over the past few years, injuries have threatened her career. But after three knee surgeries and a healed torn ACL, Savannah feels confident about this season.

"I'm healthy now. I was injured and didn't get to compete at state last year, but now I'm healthy and feeling good. I would love to re-break my record and win state."

Savannah also throws discus and currently ranks seventh in the state.

Savannah is also very involved in her church where she works in the nursery, teaches a children’s Awanas class, takes part in the youth group and volunteers with missions groups.

"My final goal is to be a missionary at an orphanage overseas."

With her love for children mixed with a yearning to do mission work, Savannah feels that is her ultimate calling.

"For about three years I have felt like God's called me to be a missionary."

Her calling was confirmed this past summer while on a mission trip with her church. Savannah went with Temple Baptist Church to New Orleans, where she participated in a variety of works like a vacation Bible school for children as well as light home repairs and cleaning. Having the mindset she wanted to work with children all week, God changed her mind and showed her that she can be a missionary through other things.

"Instead of doing VBS, I worked outside. God showed me a lot of things through working outside."

Savannah hopes to do more mission work in the future.

"It's just really cool seeing people come together to help others. Knowing that you are helping someone with simple, little things is very heart warming."

As for college, Savannah is not yet sure where she will go. She has thought about going as far away as Oregon or staying close to home and going to Montevallo.

Savannah is also vice president of the Leo Club, in the National Honor Society and takes part in dual enrollment with Wallace State Community College.

She is the daughter of Jonathan and Stacey Smith and has a younger brother, Maverick.

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