By Kyle Wylie
Coordinator of School Support Services
Kern High School District
July 11, 1989 - a date that forever changed the landscape of sports marketing and put the world on notice - the greatest athlete ever to walk the earth was a God compared to the mere mortals that he played against. On that date at Anaheim Stadium, Bo Jackson led off for the American League in the MLB All Star Game. He stepped to the plate against Rick Reuschel and launched a 448 foot homerun to center field on the second pitch that he saw. Longtime Dodger announcer, Vin Scully, calling the first inning with former President Ronald Reagan in the booth, said, “Look at that one! Bo Jackson says hello!” Bo was already a sports icon because he was the first true superstar to delve into both professional baseball with the Kansas City Royals and professional football with the Los Angeles Raiders. Jackson found success in both sports as he was the first to be an All Star in each, but this memorable home run cemented him into legendary status.
However, that game wasn’t just about Bo’s home run. After that inning came to a close, a Nike commercial came on that forever changed sports marketing and further added to the legend of Bo Jackson. Dubbed as “Bo Knows”, the Nike commercial featured Bo Jackson participating in a wide variety of sports: baseball, football, basketball, tennis, running, hockey, cycling, weightlifting, and guitar playing. The commercial is also famous for featuring other sports icons such as Kirk Gibson, Michael Jordan, John McEnroe, Wayne Gretzky, and others. Moreover, legendary blues guitarist, Bo Diddley stars as well and spends his time rocking out on his guitar throughout the duration of the commercial, further demonstrating that the best of the best in sports and in music knew how special Bo really was. Bo Jackson would become MVP of the All Star Game and coupled with the “Bo Knows” Nike commercial, people of all ages felt like they could compete in any sport and be successful in all of them. Personally, I donned a poster with Bo posing in a multitude of sports and the famous phrase, “Don’t I Know You?”
However, in the last thirty years, there have been very few athletes who have successfully played multiple sports. As specialization has crept into the fabric of American athletics, many athletes simply aren’t playing multiple sports. At North High School, one athlete is going against the grain and proving that an individual can compete in multiple sports and be successful in all of them. Senior, Hailee Sliter is leaving her mark as one of the best athletes in Kern County and in North High’s history as she has competed in 5 varsity sports this year. It no longer is “Bo Knows” - it now is “Hailee Knows”.
Hailee Knows Golf.
Sliter is a three year member of the girls golf team and for the past two seasons, has been the heart and soul for North High golf. Since Sliter joined the golf team as a sophomore, North has been undefeated in the Southeast Yosemite League winning by an average of over 60 shots a game in 2016 and 120 shots in 2017. In 2017, Sliter shot the lowest score in two tournaments and overall, posted the 2nd lowest average in the SEYL, a feat that she also accomplished as a junior. As a result of her success, she earned 1st Team All League status. In the final SEYL mini tournament, Sliter shot a 92 at Sundale Country Club, to win the tournament for North. “Everyone knew that if they did their part, Hailee would lead us to victory. ” states North High Girls Golf Coach Carlos Azparren.
Hailee Sliter of North High School was the heart and soul for the Stars golf team that won multiple SEYL Titles.
Sliter’s ability to drive the ball is perhaps her biggest strength. “I absolutely love the feeling when I connect my driver squarely with the golf ball,” indicates Sliter with a big grin, “My muscles allow me to drive the ball farther than most.” Sliter doesn’t really care where their ball goes because she feel that with each shot, a new angle to the hole presents itself, giving her the advantage. “Even if I miss badly, I walk with purpose to the ball, trying to figure out how I can execute the next shot,” explains Sliter, “In golf, the individual battle and competition makes the sport fun.” Sliter’s enthusiasm for golf coupled with her sense of humor was infectious for her teammates. “I will miss her leadership and her humor. She would take all the young golfers under her wing and make sure that nobody gave them any problems at the courses or on campus,” reflects Azparren, “After a bad round or hard day of practice, Hailee would always have something humorous to say or to break the tension.” Moreover, Azparren will remember her care for others in the context of her leadership. “Last year after a fire ravaged some animals’ homes near the Kern River, Hailee helped the FFA program relocate the animals to temporary housing the day before a tournament and had to miss practice. Hailee would go on to win the tournament the next day.”
In her junior and senior years, Hailee Sliter had the second lowest scoring average in the Southeast Yosemite League. (Photo by Javier Valdes)
Hailee knows Tennis.
As a freshman, Sliter played tennis, but because her father indicated that she could possibly get scholarship in golf, she turned away from the racket her sophomore and junior year, but decided that she could balance her time and the two sports and play both in the fall. “I am fortunate that I have wonderful coaches that are flexible and understanding with my goals,” expresses Sliter. On days that Sliter got back early from golf, she would get some hitting in with her coaches in order to get the practice that she needed. Other times, she would come in early or on the weekends and get in some extra work because she did not want to let her teammates down.
After not playing tennis her sophomore and junior years, Sliter returned to action for the Stars, playing #1 Doubles.
Due to her natural athleticism and her competitive nature, Sliter played #1 doubles with Cari Ann Bernotas this past fall. Head Coach Michael Webb couldn’t believe how good of a player she was with such limited practice. “Cari Ann and Hailee are great friends,” states Webb, “The chemistry that they shared gave the impression that they practiced for hours and hours together, when in reality it was not the case. Hailee brought a level of competition that fueled the rest of the girls.” “I loved playing tennis, especially doubles, because you have a partner there to get your back when mistakes happen,” states Sliter, “Tennis allowed for me to sharpen my hand eye coordination and it kept me going on my feet.” Sliter and Bernotas went 6-2 in the SEYL and 14-4 overall. North High School as a team was 8-0 in league play, winning the SEYL, and made it to the semifinals in the CIF Central Section DIII Playoffs. “These two feets could not have been possible without the efforts and influence of Hailee,” continues Webb.
This year, Sliter was 14-4 and 6-2 in league play with her doubles partner Cari Ann Bernotas. The North High Stars were 8-0 as a team in the SEYL. (Photo by Javier Valdes)
Hailee Knows Soccer.
Since she was three years old, soccer has been Sliter’s favorite sport. She grew up watching soccer on TV and any chance that she could get her feet on the ball, she took advantage of it. “Ultimately, I want to play professional soccer,” states Sliter, “I am so glad that I have played a wide variety of sports, but soccer is my focus.” As a freshman and sophomore, Hailee started on the Varsity team as the team’s keeper. She had skill and ability with the ball, but she was needed as the keeper. “I remember at the end of my sophomore year, begging the coach to put me in at forward,” recalls Sliter, “Finally, he conceded and within a minute, I shot and scored a goal and kind of put my coaches on notice that I can play the field as well.” The coaches did take notice of her ability and in her junior and senior year, she was moved to forward. As a junior, Sliter scored 5 goals and had 4 assists. As a senior, Sliter netted 12 goals and 5 assists earning 2nd Team All League status in the process. “The best feeling in the world is putting the ball in the back of the net,” says a giddy Sliter, “That feeling makes me love the game of soccer so much more.”
Though she plays 5 sports, soccer is Hailee Sliter's favorite.
What made Sliter such a dominate soccer player was her commitment to the craft and her hard work. “On a normal practice day, Hailee would show up 45 minutes to an hour early to improve her skills,” states Head Coach Alfredo Chavez, “She was the last person to leave the field as she worked on her striking skills after practice. In fitness training she was always first, displaying a positive attitude no matter the situation or the amount of running that was required.” Sliter loves the game of soccer because it allows for her to effectively communicate with her teammates while moving in one accord. “She was like an assistant coach on the field for me,” continues Chavez, “Her hard work and dedication inspired other teammates to work harder and because of that, our soccer team made it to playoffs this year for the first time since 2007.”
Hailee Sliter is described as another coach on the field. This year she netted 12 goals and 5 assists. (Photo by Javier Valdes)
Hailee Knows Track and Field.
Sliter decided to give Track and Field a chance her junior year with blessing of her softball coach. “I enjoy throwing the softball a lot,” she indicates, “I thought that throwing in track and field could help me out in softball.” Sliter did compete in track and field as a freshman, but remained on the lower levels. The decision paid off rather well for Sliter her junior year. In the field events, Sliter set personal records by throwing 30 feet 5 inches in the shot put and 98 feet 7 inches in the discus. Sliter would finish 6th in league in the shot and 4th in discus and in the CIF South Area Championships, she would finish in 11th. As a senior, she was consistently in the top 4 for shot put and top 2 in the discuss. Sliter would earn 2nd Team All League in the SEYL and helped contribute to 2 SEYL League Title for the Stars.
Hailee Sliter has to work a lot of time on her own to become the Stars best thrower.
Much of Sliter’s practice came at her own merit as she had to sacrifice time due to softball. “She became our best shot put and disc thrower and it was achieved through minimal practice,” explains Head Coach Adam Dawson. “Hailee is extremely focused, team oriented and will do anything possible to achieve a winning outcome. She is extremely dependable as she put in a ton of work on her own accord. More than anything, she is so proud to be a North High Star.” Sliter enjoyed track because of the work out it gave her arms, but also because of the friendships that were developed along the way. “I have met a lot of wonderful people from not only my school, but other schools as well,” indicates Sliter, “I have also met coaches from other schools that have given me pointers about how to spin and maximize my throws.” For Sliter, track and field really helped her to develop the strength that exemplifies that North High toughness.
Sliter has learned a lot from coaches all over Kern County on how to be a good thrower for the North High Stars.
Hailee Knows Softball.
Like soccer, Sliter has been playing softball since she was three. Actually, she was playing baseball with her brothers and as she got older, her mother continued to sign her up to play in little league baseball. When her mother encouraged her to play softball, Sliter didn’t want to because she loved playing baseball and thought that it would be too easy. However, when Sliter got to high school, she had to play softball. Sliter wanted to play catcher because of the involvement a catcher has on every play, but because of her athleticism, hand eye coordination, coachability, and effort, Sliter became the everyday shortstop her junior and senior year. “Hailee is a spark plug, always going full throttle, and has the ability to get things started,” states Head Coach Corrie Gannaway, “She truly leads by example, hustles all the time, and makes the others look bad or feel bad because she gives it her all each day with every rep.” As a junior, Sliter batted .441 with 30 hits, 39 runs, and 6 doubles. This year, her average has dipped to .305 but she has increased her RBIs (13) Triples (3) and Home Runs (1). Moreover, she has decreased her errors at shortstop and has recorded more double plays then she did last year, anchoring a tough North High middle infield. She is also the captain of the team that upset Golden West High School in the 1st Round of the CIF Central Section DIII Playoffs this past Wednesday.
Hailee Sliter is the cog and the energy for the North High Stars softball program.
More than anything, it is Sliter’s competitiveness and heart that has helped her the most in softball. “Hailee’s biggest strength is the amount of heart that she plays with and her desire to learn and truly understand the game,” reflects Gannaway, “She does not give up when things get tough - that’s how she became our shortstop and ultimately the heart of our team. Her teammates love being around her and are inspired by her efforts.” “I just love competing in softball and doing the little things like running the bases and fielding the ball,” states Sliter, “I am fortunate to be able to play softball for a coach that supports my efforts.” Sliter and the North High Stars travel to Selma High School tomorrow in the quarterfinals. “I hope we win,” indicates Sliter, “That would be awesome.”
Sliter enjoys running the bases and doing the little things to help her team win. (Photo by Javier Valdes)
Hailee knows FFA.
In her abundant amount of free time (insert sarcasm) Sliter is also very much involved with North High School’s Chapter of Future Farmers of America. Since joining the FFA at North High School her freshman year, Sliter has shown livestock, participated in speaking contests, shown market hogs, raised chickens, and has been actively involved in the overall leadership of FFA on campus. Twice a year, Sliter participates in a drive thru BBQ fundraiser to help earn money for personalized FFA jackets. Sliter purposefully sells a large number of BBQ tickets each time the fundraiser takes place with the goal of earning two personalized FFA jackets that she donates to her classmates that can’t afford one. To date, she has given away 8 jackets to her classmates.
Hailee Sliter has served in North High School FFA for 4 years in a wide variety of roles.
Her selfless spirit and ability to make others shine, is what makes Sliter effective in FFA. “Hailee’s personality will be missed the most after she graduates,” states FFA Advisor and Teacher Natalie Ryan, “She genuinely loves life and shares her happiness with others.” Sliter can’t say enough good things about how FFA has changed her life. “In FFA, we are one big family with no clicks. We love being around each other, but more importantly, we love serving others and helping animals.” Sliter has been the ultimate example for her peers in North High’s FFA program as she has maintained a 3.77 GPA for her entire high school career.
After a fire destroyed the homes of animals, Hailee Sliter (2nd from right) and her FFA classmates helped move the animals to safe shelter.
Hailee knows Lawn Care.
Sliter once went home in between games during a softball tournament to mow the lawn. “I was still in my gear and it only took me ten minutes,” states Sliter, “I love cutting the lawn and my dad wanted me to make sure that it was cut.”
One time, between games of a softball tournament, Hailee Sliter rushed home in her uniform and cut the grass in 10 minutes.
In 1989, “Bo Knows” dominated the athletic landscape in America. But now, “Hailee Knows” should dominate as Hailee Sliter at North High School epitomizes what it means to be a superstar in each of the sports she has played in and in her involvement in FFA.
And in mowing the lawn.