Storm brought Swinney back home
Editor’s Note: Franklin’s Future is a regular feature spotlighting a high school senior in Franklin County and what they have planned for life after graduation.
Phil Campbell’s Lauren Swinney is a well-rounded high school senior who has been involved in everything from academics to clubs to sports.
Swinney, 17, has spent a good portion of her high school career being involved in many activities such as Future Business Leaders of America, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, National Honor Society, Yearbook Club, Junior Civitan, Homecoming Court, the softball team, the cheerleading squad, and she is ranked ninth in her class academically.
“I think it’s good to get involved in high school and branch out and do things you might not have done normally,” she said.
“It’s good to get out of your comfort zone every now and then because you might discover something you enjoy or make friends with someone new.”
Swinney said she had loved being part of a smaller school where she has gotten close to the people in her class.
“Everyone knows each other here, so it’s great to walk down the hall and know the people you’re walking beside,” she said.
Swinney also said it makes things like school sporting events and activities more fun as well.
“Some of my favorite memories have been cheering at the football games and just hanging out with the people in my class,” she said. “We just all have a great time together no matter what we’re doing.”
Swinney said she has also particularly enjoyed her time spent on the softball field and with her teammates.
“Sports have been a big part of my life for a long time,” she said. “I really love it because I am a competitive person.
“I also enjoy it because it teaches you a lot of things that will be beneficial later on in life like how to deal with disappointments and hardships, how to be respectful, how to be a team player, and how to be more responsible – all things that you’ll need to know throughout your life.”
Something else that has played a large role in Swinney’s life up until this point has been gymnastics.
“I started tumbling when I was six years old and I started competitive gymnastics when I was around nine,” she said.
“I started out at Level 4 and had moved up to Level 10 and was working towards a scholarship when I decided to give it up.”
Swinney said while she has spent almost every year of her school career at Phil Campbell, she spent her 10th grade year being homeschooled in Memphis while she worked toward perfecting her gymnastics.
She said she was in Memphis when the tornado hit her hometown on April 27, 2011, and she really wanted to come back and be with her friends and family.
“After the tornado hit, I came back home to help with the cleanup and the recovery,” she said.
“When I was home I found out from my mom that she was pregnant with my little brother and those two things combined were the reasons I decided to give up the gymnastics and come back to Phil Campbell.
“I wanted to be close to home after what had happened and I also wanted to be there for my new little brother. I wanted to be part of his life and not so far away.”
But before she stepped away from gymnastics, Swinney placed first in the Alabama state gymnastics competition two times and she placed second in the Tennessee state gymnastics competition once.
“Gymnastics was great because you learn a lot of discipline, especially when I was training 30 hours a week, but you can also have a lot of fun,” she said.
“Our meets would sometimes make me nervous but I really enjoyed practices and learning new things. The bars were my favorite.”
As she gets closer and closer to graduating from high school, Swinney said she was going to miss the people she has grown up with all these years but she was also looking forward to new beginnings.
“I think college will be fun because I’ll get to meet new people and make some new friends,” she said.
Swinney said she planned to attend the University of North Alabama since it seemed like a school that wasn’t “too big or too small.”
She is also hoping to try out for a spot on the UNA cheerleading squad.
“I would love to be able to get a cheering scholarship to UNA,” she said. “It’s something I love doing and I’d love to do it at the college level.”
Swinney said she was still undecided on her major, but she has considered becoming an elementary teacher or a physical therapist.
“I love kids so I think I would really enjoy being a kindergarten teacher,” she said.
“But I also know being a physical therapist is a good job and, being around sports and injuries all my life, I think it would be neat to be the person who helps people build back there strength and get better.”
Whatever career she chooses, Swinney said she wouldn’t mind moving back closer to home when she’s ready to settle down.
“I could see myself living close to home so I could be close to my family,” she said, “but I can also see myself living somewhere completely random, as long as it’s somewhere warm.”
In her spare time, Swinney said she loves spending time doing activities outdoors or going to the mall with friends.
Swinney is the daughter of Michelle and Shane Swinney. She has two younger brothers, Nick, 14, and Luke, 1.