As Oklahoma’s largest school district, Oklahoma City Public Schools serves the most diverse student population in the state. Nowhere is this diverse spirit more evident than on the teams and sports offered through OKCPS Athletics.
At Fields & Futures, we believe a strong athletic culture is critical to building an inclusive environment that reaches and empowers all students regardless of their background, gender, or income. It’s one of the many things we love about Nevaeh Silva’s story.
As a multi-sport athlete at Southeast Middle School, Nevaeh has stepped onto fields and courts with student-athletes from all corners of OKC. But this year presented a new and unique opportunity for this young female athlete.
She joined the SEMS wrestling team.
And, no surprise here, she’s really good.
Even though girls’ wrestling is not new to OKCPS, participating in this male-dominated sport has given Nevaeh the confidence to take on new challenges and prove that girls can thrive on any stage. All they need is an opportunity.
In this OKCPS student-athlete interview, Nevaeh tells us about the role that sports have played in her life and why she is a better student and person because of them.
What is your name, and what school do you go to?
My name is Nevaeh Silva, and I go to Southeast Middle School.
What sports do you play?
I wrestle, run cross-country, and play volleyball and soccer.
How long have you played sports?
I have been playing sports for 11 years.
Why are sports important to you?
Sports are important to me because they help me stay in shape and make me feel good about myself.
What was your biggest sports goal or dream when you were younger?
When I was younger, my biggest sports goal was to play varsity soccer in high school.
Is that goal different now? If so, how?
I still have the same goal, but I also want to go to college for soccer or volleyball.
Tell us about your earliest sports memory.
My earliest sports memory is way before I was on the wrestling team, but me and my cousin would always wrestle each other, and our dads would be our coaches. My grandma would yell at us to stop and make us hug each other.
Tell us about your favorite sports memory.
My favorite sports memory is when I was at a soccer tournament and lost our first game but made it to the championship and had to play the team that beat us. My team ended up winning the championship.
What impact has playing sports had on your life?
I have learned a lot of life lessons that I wouldn’t have learned without playing sports.
How has it impacted the people around you?
My teachers and parents respect me more because they see how hard I work in sports and school.
How have sports kept you more focused in the classroom or made you a better student?
Sports have made me more focused on school because I have to turn in my work on time so I can play in my games.
Do you think your focus on sports has helped you avoid trouble or bad choices? How?
They have helped me stay out of trouble because I know I won’t be able to play sports.
Tell us about a lesson you learned from playing sports that you can apply elsewhere in life.
Mistakes make you grow and become a better player and person.
Finish this sentence: A team is…
To me, a team is your family and your safe place that you can always count on.
Give an example of how a team or teammate has been a positive influence in your life.
My teammates have been positive to me by always telling me it’s okay and checking up on me.
Give an example of how you have helped your team or a teammate.
I check up on them, and when they make a mistake, I tell them just to shake it off and move on to the next play.
Can you provide an example or story about how a coach has been a positive influence in your life?
My wrestling coach made me try a new sport that I’d never played, and now I want to try new stuff that I haven’t done before.
How important is it for young athletes to have access to quality athletic fields and facilities?
It’s important for young athletes to have access to fields and facilities because they will want to spend more time there, and people can get hurt if the fields are bad.
How does it feel knowing there are people all over Oklahoma City that you’ve never met rooting for you and investing in your school and community?
It makes me happy because we put a lot of work into sports, and it gives people a chance that have never gotten one.
Where would you be today if you didn’t play sports?
I don’t know what my life would be like without sports because I have been playing sports since I was four years old.
What is your biggest life/career goal or dream? (This does not have to be sports-related.)
I want to go to college for sports and get a scholarship.
Imagine it’s 10 or 20 years in the future; what words of advice or encouragement would you give to a young student-athlete standing in the same shoes you are today?
I would tell them to never give up even when it’s hard and to always chase their dreams.
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.