By Beth Cox
It is said; the best ideas come from the most mundane moments. Such is the case with Johnson County High School sophomore and softball player, Hailey Cox, who after a day of practice was sitting in the living room with her dad, Tim Cox Jr., discussing how softball practice was going. It was a simple conversation that led to the idea appropriately named Align Eight, a new product designed to help keep the batter’s knuckles properly aligned allowing the batter a much better, and more natural grip resulting in more consistency in swinging the bat. Hailey explained that the product could also help protect the batter’s hands by absorbing some of the shocks from the bat.
“It does not guarantee better hitting, but it is a tool to help with proper batting techniques,” she said.
After sketching out different models using only Crayola Modeling Material and going through many sketches and 3D models, Tim hired a product designer from Microsoft. Hailey experimented with various prototypes before choosing the product that is now Align Eight. But how was the dad and daughter team going to get the new invention approved for baseball and softball play? JCHS softball coach, Greg Reece was instrumental in giving Hailey and Tim information and contacts they needed to take their product to the next level, which was the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS).
The two innovators went to Indianapolis, Indiana and presented their product to a seventeen-member team, eleven of who were voting members.Hailey had the daunting task of fielding multiple questions from the members for several minutes.
While very nervous, Haley said, “Having dinner with Elliot Hopkins (Director of NFHS) the night before really helped calm my nerves.”
Tim and Hailey’s hard work and dedication to this project paid off; on Monday, June 10, the pair received the confirmation from the NFHS that Align Eight was indeed approved for high school use. The rest is history as the two developers hope to launch Align Eight in the fall of 2019.Align Eight will be available under Hailey and Tim’s company, Firsty Athletic Company, where Hailey is not only Vice President but also a shareholder in the company. “Firsty” is derived from Hailey’s approach to softball; “work every day, sweat every day, improve every day, thirst for your first.” Firsty is a combination of the words first and thirst.
Align Eight is just the beginning for the young entrepreneur. The goal for Firsty is to release more products, including apparel that will be approved by Hailey. Hailey and her dad are very grateful to Coach Reece, Cory Wilson, who printed the prototypes and the Mountain City community for the help and support they have received throughout the whole journey. A remarkable athlete, a great student, and a marvelous creator, Haley is passionate about helping others and doing the work of the Lord.
Through her company and the sales of Align Eight, she will donate a portion of the profit to an organization close to her heart, ToMoveMountains.org; the organization’s mission is to help the children of the Nuba Mountains of Sudan Africa. Johnson County High School sophomore softball player, Haley Cox, proudly presents a new product she and her dad invented to keep the batter’s knuckles properly aligned with the softball or baseball bat for a more natural grip and consistent swing. The National Federation of High School Sport recently approved Haley’s product softball use.