The most prominent celebrities in the world are athletes. Lebron James. Tom Brady. Serena Williams. Tiger Woods. Christiano Ronaldo. These superstars are bigger than life.
Their performance on the field earns them more money and recognition than any other profession in the public eye. Kids—and adults—want to be them. We discuss their latest feats in the hallways and at the water cooler. We wear overpriced shirts with their names on the back and even buy tickets to watch them work.
Our adoration for sports figures has grown to the point where college and even high school athletes are becoming household names. As this spotlight grows wider and brighter, one thing becomes clear—some athletes seek out the spotlight, while others simply accept it.
After spending a little time with Ky’auna Crigler, a multi-sport athlete and honor roll student at F.D. Moon Middle School in Northeast Oklahoma City, it’s apparent she falls into the latter category.
Every eye was trained on Ky’auna as we sat in the classroom and walked the halls of her middle school, taking pictures for this article. While all the attention from classmates and school faculty made her noticeably uncomfortable—embarrassed might be a better word—she didn’t shy away from the spotlight. She simply accepted it.
It makes you wonder how much more reverence we would have for superstars athletes if they handled their notoriety with the humility and grace of an 8th-grade student-athlete from Oklahoma City Public Schools.
In this OKCPS student-athlete interview, Ky’auna shares how sports have impacted her life and how having fun and being humble are the most important things for an athlete.
What is your name, and what school do you go to?
My name is Ky’auna Crigler, and I go to F.D. Moon Middle School.
What sports do you play?
I play volleyball, cheer, and run track.
Which sport is your favorite?
Cheer is my favorite sport.
How long have you played sports?
I have played sports all my life.
Why are sports important to you?
Sports are important to me because they give me an opportunity to let go of any negative feelings I have, and I just get to have fun.
What was your biggest sports goal or dream when you were younger?
My biggest sports goal or dream was to be able to go farther and bigger with the sports I play.
Is that goal different now? If so, how?
No, it is not. I still want to go farther and bigger with the sports I play.
Tell us about your earliest sports memory.
My earliest sports memory would have to be my first track meet because it was a really fun day.
Tell us about your favorite sports memory.
My favorite sports memory is from cheer when I got invited to cheer with the high schoolers.
What impact has playing sports had on your life?
Playing sports has made a huge impact on my life.
How has it impacted the people around you?
Playing sports has had a positive impact on the people around me, but it has also impacted some in a negative way because friendships sometimes take a backseat to sports schedules and commitments.
How have sports kept you more focused in the classroom or made you a better student?
Sports have kept me more focused in the classroom because they provide an extra push to complete my work and turn it in.
Do you think your focus on sports has helped you avoid trouble or bad choices? How?
Yes, because anytime I consider doing something I shouldn’t, I always remember that I’m in sports and bad choices can affect my future.
Tell us about a lesson you learned from playing sports that you can apply elsewhere in life.
A lesson I learned in sports is that no matter how hard things get, you should always give it your all, and even if you have a bad start, you can still end strong.
Tell us about a hardship that playing sports has helped you overcome.
Playing sports has helped me overcome every bad thing that has happened in my life.
Finish this sentence: A team is…
A team is an entire group of people filled with heart, dedication, and motivation that always stays humble.
Give an example of how a team or teammate has positively influenced your life.
My teammates throughout my whole sports career have always let me know that even if I mess up one time, I can still come back from it.
Give an example of how you have helped your team or a teammate.
I’ve helped my team by letting them know they’re great at what they do and wouldn’t have made it on the team if they weren’t.
Can you provide an example or story about how a coach has positively influenced your life?
My mom has been my coach for most of the sports I’ve been in, so her words and encouragement have always been a positive influence.
How important is it for young athletes to have access to quality athletic fields and facilities?
It’s really important to have access to good fields and facilities at an early age because kids can start playing when they’re younger and don’t have to wait until they’re older to learn a sport.
How does it feel knowing there are people all over Oklahoma City you’ve never met who are rooting for you and investing in your school and community?
It feels good. Some people may look down on my school or me, so it’s a good push to know people are behind us.
Where would you be today if you didn’t play sports?
Most likely at home doing homework.
What is your biggest life/career goal or dream? (This does not have to be sports-related.)
My biggest life goal is to teach younger kids about life and sports and to be able to help the world a little bit.
Imagine it’s 10 or 20 years in the future; what words of advice or encouragement would you give a young student-athlete standing in the same shoes you are today?
I would say, “Remember that you are a 5-star athlete in your own way. Have fun and do what you do best.”
Oklahoma City Public Schools is Oklahoma’s largest school district, serving approximately 34,000 multicultural students across 135.5 square-miles area in the Oklahoma City metro area. More than 91% of OKCPS students are economically disadvantaged. Fields & Futures was created in 2012 to support OKCPS in its effort to put students on a better path to graduation by growing student participation in sports.