BENTON Jerry Chumley wishes senior Caitlin Ginther was 6-4 and could touch the basketball rim with both hands. But, he said, that “is not as important as what she does in life.”
“She is not a dominant player, but she is a dominant human being,” said Chumley, who is the head coach for the Benton High School girls basketball program. “She is the kind of kid you want in your program because she is just so solid in every way.”
Ginther, 17, was recently awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Scholarship. She said she was completely shocked by the scholarship because it was nothing she applied for, but rather something she was nominated for by her teachers.
“It was very surprising,” Ginther said. “It made me feel good that teachers see me as someone who is a good citizen, shows respect and has the values they were looking for. It means a lot.”
According to the website www.dar.org, “this award recognizes and rewards individuals who possess the qualities of dependability, service, leadership and patriotism in their homes, schools and communities.”
“Caitlin takes her academics very seriously and wants to do well in everything,” Chumley said. “She has a drive inside her that a lot of kids don’t have.”
Ginther has played basketball for the Lady Panthers since she was in the eighth grade but has played the game since she was old enough to shoot a basket. Her dad, Matt Ginther, is a former basketball coach.
“She is a coach’s kid, so that comes with intangibles that a lot of players don’t have,” Chumley said. “They have instilled all those things into Caitlin. We are going to miss her.”
Caitlin is the oldest daughter of Matt and Kristin Ginther, both of whom teach at Benton High School. Caitlin has two younger brothers, Jack, 14, and Jaren, 10.
“My parents are both teachers, so that has a lot to do with me working hard in the classroom,” Caitlin said. “They have always taught me to be kind, be respectful.
“It is what I am supposed to do, so I’ve always done it.”
Kristin teaches trigonometry-precalculus and geometry at the high school, and Matt teaches world history and American history. Caitlin said those are probably her two least-favorite subjects.
“We think we raised a good kid,” Kristin said. “Everybody else was kind enough to tell us the same thing.”
Caitlin said that right now, her plan is to attend the nursing program at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and eventually become a neonatal nurse. She said she always liked helping people and enjoys science.
“She has always been good with kids,” Kristin said. “She has two younger brothers and is eight years older than my youngest, so she has always been nurturing anyway.
“She used to say she wanted to be a pediatrician or a teacher, but she has really gotten interested and narrowed down exactly what she wants to do in the past year or two.”
Kristin said her daughter loves science and math, so “this seems like it was the best fit for her.”
“When I was a kid, I wanted to be a doctor, and at first I thought about pediatrics — and I still might go back to that,” Caitlin said. “More recently, it’s been babies and neonatal.
“I just want to help them.”
Last year, she took a child-development class, where she learned more about babies and actually had to do a paper on a neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, nurse. She is taking anatomy this year and said the class “really intrigues me.”
She recently went on a tour of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus in Little Rock and got to look at the NICU there.
“The nurses there told us about some of the cases they had and the schooling you had to do to get to that point,” she said. “I think that is what I am going to do.”
“Caitlin is one of the most caring people I know,” Kristin said. “She wears her heart on her sleeve and would do anything for anybody.
“She has the heart to do something for other people. She wants to work with babies. She likes working with kids a lot.”
Caitlin said she has no plans to continue her athletic career.
“I am just ready to go to college and focus on getting a degree,” she said. “Sports is very time-consuming, and I don’t think I want to do it anymore. I really just do it for fun.”
Caitlin has a 4.1 grade-point average and is a member of the National Honor Society, the Student Council, the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She said she is also a member of the Math Club, but that’s mainly for the free doughnuts.
“I am also apart of BHS Serve, which is an outreach program for needy kids or sick kids,” she said. “We bring them a card or a meal to their house and make sure they are all right.”
Her coach said Caitlin leads the Lady Panthers in a lot of ways.
“She executes well and is very coachable,” Chumley said. “All the little things that we coaches like to put in and preach, Caitlin does them all well.
“Verbally, she doesn’t say a whole lot, but she does lead us in a lot of ways.”
Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.