The Paris Lady Eagles have but one Senior on the court this year, and she has not played basketball since the 9th grade. Paiton Forbis is a rare find. She played basketball and loved the game since she was young, starting at the Boys and Girls Club, but when she reached the 9th grade, she decided to focus on volleyball. She now has a couple of State Championship rings for her effort. However, when the Lady Eagles season ended abruptly in the quarter-finals of the State Tournament this year, Paiton knew there was more.
"I wasn't ready for this to be over. I am not done with High School sports, and the next thing up was basketball." The next day, Forbis joined Lady Eagles Head Basketball Coach Dustin Williams in the gym to start back in the game she loved as a kid.
"I thought at first it would be scary, but they have taken me in. We are super close. It is fun being the only senior. It is like we are all just the same, one team," says Forbis.
Coach Williams said, "She is such a great leader. A hard worker. We are lucky to have her energy and morale to practice every day. The rust wears off more and more every game." And From that first game, she has been a starter and a key player for the Lady Eagles. After that first game, she knew the running in basketball was going to be a lot more rigorous. As she laughs off her adjustments and refreshing on all of the rules, she has worked hard to be a leader. Leadership is something that is also second nature for Forbis. She is the Future Business Leaders of America local chapter President, the President of the National Honor Society, a member of the student council and a four-year class officer. She is also a member of FFA and the Key Club, all while maintaining the pace to be an honor graduate this year and finish at or near the top of her class. She balances her school and activities well, currently holding a 3.98 GPA. But, if you ask her about her favorite memory so far from her senior year, it is not sports or clubs that sit atop the list; Paiton was voted Homecoming Queen and Ms. PHS by her peers.
Both on and off the court, Forbis has exemplified leadership. And while her parents have been heavily involved in her upbringing, this Senior finds motivation and encouragement from another senior, a senior citizen. When Forbis was young, her grandmother took her to see the play "9 to 5," which was based on the music and hit movie by one Dolly Parton. As the story goes, she memorized the songs from the show and was singing them on the way home. In 2015, her dad took her to see Dolly on stage, and since then, it has just been part of life. In 2016, she heard that Dolly was going to be at Dollywood and convinced her siblings to get their tests done early and for mom, who was teaching at the time, to leave on the last day of school and drive to Tennessee to meet Dolly Parton. Though they did their best and saw every site there was to see, they never found Dolly that week. Instead they have stories that will be told at family gatherings long after school is over. This year, faculty and friends received a Christmas card with Paiton's face photoshopped in the iconic beehive hairdo that Dolly made famous, along with the phrase, "Have a Holly, Dolly Christmas! "
So how does Paiton manage to blend this adoration of Dolly Parton with her athletic and educational leadership? What is the one leadership skill learned from the famed country singer? "When I think of Dolly Parton, I see a person that is just a joy to be around," says Forbis. "I just want to be that way. I want to be someone that is a joy to be around." And just like that, the lone senior on the Lady Basketball team gave us all something to think about.
When you are out and about, or home with family and friends this holiday season, take a page from Parton's Paiton's book of leadership and be someone that is a joy to be around.