Harper Bell and Bradford Patton are long-standing members of Hillcrest’s Cougar baseball team, and as seniors this year, they are leaders both on the field and in the school halls.
Harper Bell has attended HCS for 13 years, since kindergarten; over the years he has played football, soccer and baseball, where he alternates between playing at short stop and pitching. He has also been recognizable as one of the members of the “Hype Squad,” the guys who created and performed halftime shows during varsity basketball games. He says that helping to get that tradition going again has provided some of his favorite Hillcrest memories, along with “Going on bus rides with my teammates, eating breakfast before football games, and throwing sauces at Connor McDavid’s truck.” Outside of school, Harper enjoys hanging out with friends and playing even more baseball.
Harper lists his current baseball coach as one of his favorite teachers at Hillcrest. He states, “Coach Foreman is someone I strive to be like. No matter the situation or problem, he is always positive about it. I have never seen anyone else do what he has done, with all he sacrifices to be our coach and our teacher.” Similarly, Harper realizes that he, too, serves as a leader to younger Hillcrest students; he says, “I believe I set examples and am looked up to by them both on and off the field,” and the best advice he has for them is “Even when life gets tough and stuff doesn’t go your way, never give up.” After his graduation next month, Harper hopes to continue playing baseball and to major in engineering, with the ultimate goal of becoming an architect. Along the way his favorite Bible verse — Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not lean on your own understanding” — will continue to guide Harper as it has throughout his life: “That is how I’ve gotten through a lot, just putting trust in God and letting him do the work.”
Senior Bradford Patton, who began attending Hillcrest 6 years ago, played football for the Cougars and plays the positions of pitcher and third base for the baseball team. Baseball also led to one of Bradford’s favorite memories from his high school years: He says that being named 1st-team All-Conference pitcher is something he will always remember, along with “getting Chik-Fil-A at chapel sometimes and the whole school going to the movies to see God’s Not Dead” during spiritual emphasis week one year.
Bradford is known to be a hard worker in every aspect of his life, and because of this, his peers often come to him for advice. He believes that his ability to encourage his fellow HCS students is one of his strengths. One of the ways he does that is to share advice such as the following: “Keep working hard, and don’t study for tests at the last minute; always go 100 percent in everything that you do for God.” Bradford shows that willingness to go above and beyond even in the activities he undertakes outside of school; he enjoys cutting grass for people and working with his church to help needy people get off the streets.
As his graduation in May quickly draws near, Bradford wants to continue to play baseball either for Holmes Community College or Tougaloo College, and then he plans to attend Mississippi State in order to pursue aerospace engineering. He also will take his favorite Bible verse with him, which addresses both the future and plans, and has, he says, “defined how my life has been”: Jeremiah 29:11 states, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.”