Some people are more talented athletically than others. Some athletes work hard to earn whatever accolades and honors come their way.
For two Waurika graduating seniors, it would seem they have both.
Slade Cathey and Tallin Mora have been outstanding athletes at Waurika High School the past four years. And, it just so happens they come from a rich heritage in high school athletics by family members.
However, it is not like Mora and Cathey have not put in the hard work to earn their own achievements at Waurika High School.
The two cousins will finalize their high school experiences Friday night when they participate in high school graduation exercises at Cy Sloan Stadium.
Their grandparents – the late Doug Cathey and Sue Kellner – were both standout athletes at Ryan High School.
As a matter of fact, both grandparents earned all-state honors. Cathey earned all-state as a quarterback at Ryan and at one time he was the backup quarterback for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. An injury sidelined that dream, but he moved to defensive line where he earned All-Big Eight honors and he went on to serve as an assistant coach on the Oklahoma State football staff.
“We regarded him as a very promising sophomore at quarterback,” said Phil Cutchin, the OSU football coach at the time. That was a quote from 1964 when Cathey suffered a knee injury.
Kellner (formerly Hoffman in high school) was an all-stater on Ryan’s 1965 state championship basketball team. She was on the all-tourney team for the 1965 state tournament and co-captain of the Cowgirl team.
Not many high school athletes across the state can brag that two of their grandparents were all-staters.
And, it doesn’t stop there. Parents and siblings have also reeled in their share of honors and accomplishments in athletics at Ryan and Waurika.
Slade’s father, the late Scott Cathey, was a standout on playoff football teams at Ryan and was the defensive lineman of the year in the district in the 1986 season.
The football fieldhouse at Waurika is named in Scott’s honor.
Jennifer, Slade’s mom, was not an athlete in high school, but she certainly has been be a staunch supporter of her sons through the years.
Sage and Seth, Slade’s older brothers, were recent excellent performers for the Eagle football team and track squad. Seth is on the football squad at Evangel University.
And, there is still one sibling, Roxie, that may or may not choose the path of athletics for high school.
Tallin’s parents were also outstanding athletes. Guy Mora, Tallin’s father, was a state qualifier in the 880 yard run in high school and also played football.
Tallin’s mom, Shelly (Cathey) Mora, was a standout at Ryan High School in basketball. In 1988, Shelly was named Miss Bench Player by The Duncan Banner. She also holds two school records at Ryan – most points scored in a game (50 against Big Pasture) and most field goals made in a game (16).
Tatum, Turner and Tucker Mora – Tallin’s siblings – were multi-sport athletes at Waurika and earned plenty of accolades during their careers for the Eagles and Lady Eagles.
Tatum was a member of the school record 1,600 and 3,200 meter relay teams for the Lady Eagles.
Turner was a member of the 800 and 1,600 meter relay teams that hold the school record for the Eagles.
Tucker holds the school record in the high jump – and it is one of the best jumps in Class A in the state. He was also a member of the 1,600 meter relay team that holds the school record.
You would think that with a heritage like that, Slade and Tallin would feel the pressure to continue the heritage. But both athletes deflect that thinking.
“I never felt pressure to perform well because of my family,” Slade said in a recent interview. “Instead I felt a drive and burning desire to make myself be someone that my future kids and grandkids will look up to the way I look up to my dad and his dad before him.”
“As far as my siblings, it was more to show everyone that I am not just Seth’s or Sage’s little brother,” Slade added. “I am my own person and that is another thing that has pushed me so hard to be the best athlete I could be.”
“I have felt a little pressure because of my heritage, but I brought it on myself,” Tallin said in a recent conversation.
“My siblings and parents have always been super supportive and they always have been proud of me no matter my performance,” Tallin noted.
“I always felt pressure because I wanted to make them proud, but at the end of the day, they were proud no matter the outcome,” Tallin said.
The journey for the two cousins has been one of determination, drive and dedication, but it has come with the absolute support from their families.
“My family has had the best impact on my life,” said Tallin. “A lot of families seem so loving on the outside and then you get to know them and they are not as close as they looked.”
“That is not the case with my family. We are truly a team that strives to make each other better, help each other and celebrate each other,” Tallin remarked when asked about the impact of her family.
“”My family has shown me that regardless of what happens, if you stand tall and take whatever life throws at you, it will get better,” Slade said about the impact of his family on his life.
Slade has had his share of adversity as he lost his father a couple of years ago. In addition to his efforts and dedication to Eagle athletics, he has had to assume responsibility for his dad’s cattle ranch.
“This is a lot of responsibility for any kid to handle,” Slade commented. “This is especially true without having my dad to ask questions and to have by my side to support me.”
The two multi-sport athletes pointed to other influences in their lives that have helped provide guidance and support.
“God has really made a big impact on my life,” said Tallin. “In life, you will never truly be successful unless you have a relationship with God.”
“God has helped me through sports by guiding me on how to be a proper leader to my teammates and how to keep my composure in nearly all situations,” Tallin added.
Slade pointed to his high school football coach, Joe Allen, as the person outside his family that has had influence on him.
“Coach Allen pushes everyone to be the best he can in every aspect of life.” Slade said. “He isn’t only a role model on the field, but in life all around.”
“After my father passed he was one of two people that came and sat with me and talked to me,” Slade reflected. “From that moment on, I knew that I would do anything I could for him.”
Slade particularly lived that out during his senior year of football. With the Eagles facing a rash of injuries, including Slade, he made the decision to play through his injuries that included a dislocated ankle, a torn ACL, a broken finger and pneumonia.
Slade was even tabbed to play quarterback late in the season when both Waurika’s quarterbacks had suffered injuries.
Opposing coaches and fans took notice of Slade’s sacrifices and commented to him after one of the games.
“It was crazy to me that I never second guessed playing that night and I guess that makes sense with my dad and grandad’s blood running through me,” Slade said. “It made me happy when I realized I was living up to the Cathey name.”
That series of events during Slade’s senior season stands out has his greatest sports memory in high school, but Tallin’s best memory is a little more celebrative.
“My greatest memory would have to be being regional champions in track this year,” Tallin recalled. “Throughout the season, I could see my teammates coming together, so our team could eventually win regionals.”
“My teammates and I gave our every effort on the day of regionals and it felt amazing to have it play off when we won the team title,” Tallin added.
While Tallin credits track with helping her learn to work through pain, she notes that basketball is her favorite sport.
“It would be basketball,” said Tallin when asked about her favorite sport. “I think it is because of the team aspect. The feeling of a play working perfectly is unmatched, especially a defensive play.”
For Slade, it is definitely football that tops his list of sports he has participated in through the years.
“I grew up watching my brothers play and hearing stories of my grandfather playing for OSU and I knew it was something I would do for as long as I could,” noted Slade.
“I never had an adrenaline rush like the rush you get when you make a big play and look to see the whole crowd cheering,” Slade added.
While sports have been a great focus for the two cousins the last few years, they do have other interests.
Slade pointed to his work on the ranch as well as roping as some of his hobbies. Tallin listed going to church, hanging out with friends and focusing on academics as the things that occupy her time when she is not on the track or court.
And the pair of relatives are ready to put sports behind them as far as competition goes.
Slade plans to attend Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant and obtain a degree as a professional pilot. He hopes to someday fly for a major airline.
Tallin’s plans are to attend the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and pursue a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology.
Both have lofty plans for the future and no doubt the accomplishments in sports, hard work and support of family have shaped them and will continue to do so moving forward into young adulthood.
They are certainly great role models who stand alone from the rest of their heritage and are worthy for future Waurika athletes to emulate when it comes to dedication and discipline.