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Cayla Timberlake: A Little Sparkle and Lipstick

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Poise and grace characterize the path taken by Cayla Timberlake as she successfully navigates two very different and difficult industries. 

As head coach of Mizzou’s Golden Girls, Cayla puts her creative right brain in gear; as a Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist at Restoration Eye Care, her scientific left brain exerts its influence as she works with LASIK patients. In both careers, she exudes energy, congeniality and compassion. 

“I was lucky enough to earn a spot on the Golden Girls all four years of college, from 2008 to 2012. During this time, I was also chosen to be a feature twirler for Marching Mizzou, which allowed me to both dance and twirl during games!” Cayla noted. “I’m from Columbia, so black and gold are part of my DNA. Both of my parents are University of Missouri alumni, and my dad played football for Mizzou in the early ’80s. Just like most dancers, starting at the young age of two or three and growing up with role models in gold-sequined dresses and white boots, I knew Golden Girls was something I dreamed of being a part of in college. My time on the squad created so many experiences and opportunities that I knew when my husband and I moved back home after our short stint in Arkansas, I wanted to give back to the program that gave so much to me. I’ve been fortunate enough to assist or lead this special group of girls for five years now.”

Cayla, who earned a BS in health sciences at the University of Missouri in 2012 and a second BS in ophthalmic medical technology from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in 2015, has a clear vision of how her dual full-time careers complement each other. “By working full-time in two completely different fields, it creates a special appreciation for each one,” she explained. “What I love about coaching is the bond that is formed with each girl. This in turn makes me realize just how important those relationships are with my patients. 

Although I don’t spend as much time with each of my patients daily as I do with my team, receiving feedback from the girls or their parents makes me realize how impactful that time can be. I knew a long time ago that working in the health field would allow me to create the special relationships that an extrovert craves, and by coaching, I am able to perfect the understanding of how to communicate with all different types of people in our community.”

Each career path provides its own satisfaction. “In ophthalmology, there is nothing that beats the instant gratification of someone who can see after surgery,” she affirmed. “One of my jobs is helping to calculate measurements for all LASIK patients, and it’s extremely emotional to give vision back to someone who may have never even been able to see the chart to begin with.”

Her love for coaching Golden Girls is very personal. “My absolute, most favorite thing about coaching is simply the time I spend with the girls themselves. Getting to know their personalities brings so much joy to this job. Coaching isn’t just about going to practice and critiquing a routine; what I love is being their biggest fan throughout their journey in college while away from home. Being with them through tests, projects, nailing new tricks or skills, birthdays, job applications, self-tanning mishaps, or even just being homesick, that is what I love. Each girl is unique and such a blessing in my life.”

Cayla and her husband, Nick, married in 2015. “I am extremely lucky to have a husband that supports me as much as Nick does. He knows I can take on the world and gives me the courage and confidence every morning before we part ways, and he’s always smiling and ready to listen when we see each other again in the evening,” she said. “It never fails that he asks me how my day was, how the girls are, and if I helped patients see that day. He’s got a heart of gold, and I most look forward to just hanging out with him and our dog, Rileigh, because it puts everything into perspective about just how fortunate we are to do what we love.”

The couple also has a new member of the family expected at the end of April. What about juggling a family and two careers? “Little Miss will make her grand debut at the end of April!” Cayla smiled. I know her arrival will make life that much sweeter. Women have a special knack for multitasking, and I hope to become even more of an expert in that as I enter the world of motherhood! Being surrounded by people who are positive and supportive is the number one strategy for remaining successful in all that you want to do. It also helps that my parents and Nick’s parents live in Columbia and love grandbabies.”

For women who have multiple passions and may be searching or struggling to choose their path, Cayla provides wise and comforting words. “Know that God has given each of us different talents, and if you’re struggling to decide which one to follow, you owe it to yourself to try all of them” she noted. “I’ve found that when you’re able to look at the big picture and see how your gifts can benefit others, it is very rewarding. Don’t fear judgment from others; your passions will shine through brighter than ever, and the confidence you have by trusting in yourself will lead you down the path you’re intended to go! A little sparkle and lipstick never hurt, either.”