Running toward a challenge

“Like a photographer adjusts their camera lens to capture an astounding shot, we must also adjust our perspective lens on life or else miss new possibilities.”

Those are wise words from Carley Hale, who has lived out that statement and taken advantage of abundant opportunities during her time at SAU. The Panhandle, Texas, native has experienced success as a Mulerider student-athlete with major plaudits coming both in the classroom and during athletic competition.

However, it took a persistent recruiting pitch from SAU Head Men’s & Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field Coach Tim Servis and brief indecision and uncertainty of wanting to compete collegiately by Hale as a high school senior to solidify Southern Arkansas University as her college home.

Despite Servis being out of scholarship money during that recruiting cycle, the talented Hale became a Mulerider student-athlete after accepting a $1 offer, at 50 cents a semester, for her first year in Magnolia.

“I laugh now because running and this University have turned out to be the best things I’ve experienced thus far,” noted Hale. “It’s so much fun, and the team is amazing. As for everything I’ve done and accomplished [athletically], it just happened. I never planned it, never! I didn’t even know I was capable of achieving [such] awards.”

Hale’s latest achievement occurred in late April as she graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA in Art and Design: Media and Marketing with a minor in English. Additionally, Hale is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-American. At the Fourth Annual Mulespy Awards, Hale became the first student-athlete to be twice named the Murphy USA Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Additionally, she has volunteered her time in roles such as serving as the Secretary of the Running toward a challenge SAU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, the
Communications Director of ISI Ministries, and sponsoring a child in Bolivia through Child Fund International.

So what drives Carley Hale? Hint: it isn’t any of the accolades listed above or the fact that she has a combined seven All-GAC honors in cross country and track and field or that she was named SAU’s Outstanding Senior in Art and Design this past academic year.

“Honestly, being the underdog,” remarked Hale. “I love watching the underestimated ones do the unexpected and show out.” But that’s not all. “Change, growth, and improving. That also drives me. I always want to become and do better than I did before.”

Certainly, the well-deserved honors that she has received in her collegiate career are a by-product of her desire to constantly improve, accept change, and experience growth, but “being the underdog”?

You wouldn’t know it on the outside or even by looking at the laundry list of accolades that she has obtained, but Hale fights daily to live as normal of a life as possible, like that of an underdog. Hale suffers from narcolepsy with cataplexy which is a “chronic neurological disorder caused by the brain’s inability to regulate a stable sleep-wake cycle” coupled with “a sudden loss of muscle tone that causes feelings of weakness and loss of voluntary muscle control.” (sleepassociation.org)

Diagnosed in February of her senior year of high school, Hale perseveres daily as the disorder has prompted intense attention to her nightly sleep patterns, a low-to-no sodium diet, and the overall daily struggle with a disorder that at times affects even the simplest of functions.

“If I could go back and change my condition, I don’t think I would,” noted Hale. “It has taught me so much about priorities, time management, to have compassion for others, and not to make assumptions about people.”

Hale’s current plans will keep her at SAU, where she will serve as a member of the University’s VISTA program while working towards her Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Social Entrepreneurship. She also plans to compete in her final seasons with the Mulerider Women’s Cross Country and Track and Field programs. But after SAU?

“I really want to change the world for the better. I know I’m only one person, but I truly desire to implement change for the overall good of humanity. Being a graphic design/ marketing major, I hope to work with non-profit organizations. I have a passion for ministry and would love to do that along with [helping] non-profits.”

More insight on Hale’s incredible story and her time as a Mulerider student-athlete will be available in the fall of 2021 on www.MuleriderAthletics.com.

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