If there is one word that describes Dixie High School basketball player Kelsea Barker, it is persistence. “She is more persistent than any teenager I’ve ever known,” says Kelsea’s mother, Mindi Barker. “She just won’t rest until she finishes what she sets out to do.”
One of those things Kelsea intends to accomplish is becoming the best basketball player she possibly can. As a junior at Dixie High, she is looking forward to playing on the varsity team this year. However, Kelsea has not limited her playing time to the high school basketball season. With her involvement on the Utah Raiders competitive team, she is able to play year round.
Kelsea has dabbled in other sports but decided basketball was the one. She says, “With everything else I want to do with my life, I know I can only invest my time into one [sport].” Kelsea feels she can develop herself more by focusing on one sport than if she were to spread herself thin by playing multiple sports. “I want to be really, really good in one instead of being sort of okay in all of them,” she says. “I know I won’t have enough time to be a master in all of them.”
What are all the other things Kelsea is doing with her life? Besides taking AP classes at Dixie High School and concurrent enrolment classes through Dixie State University, Kelsea just launched a new business for an app she created and released in October. She has also created a freelance blogging business among other entrepreneurial endeavors.
Her digital app, Hue!, and the business surrounding it are the culmination of a goal she set when she was just eleven-years-old. One reason she pursued and persisted in this goal is to be an inspiration for other girls in both the areas of entrepreneurship and coding. “I want to be an inspiration for other teens to be self-employed,” she says. “I hate seeing my friends so stressed all the time,” Kelsea continues, noting that many of them work part-time jobs on top of school and other responsibilities. “It’s really sad to me. I don’t want my life to be like that. I don’t want their lives to be like that either, so I want to show them entrepreneurship is not only possible but actually really fun.”
“Kelsea’s website for her app HUE! is hueappfree.com and the app is available on the app store. Kelsea has been featured in The Spectrum and on Fox 13 News for her work on her app.“
Kelsea also explains that although she sees a big push in the world for girls to code, they don’t have a lot of role models. “I feel like there’s a lot of really high up women, like in Yahoo!, but teenage girls don’t really have any role models that are their age and their circumstances. I feel like it’s a cool thing to be an actual teen girl doing it because that’s what they are right now.”
“More than anything I want to volunteer abroad,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to travel, and I’m already looking into these trips. There’s one in Ghana, Africa, and Nepal.” She continues, “If money weren’t an issue, I’d go in a heartbeat. I really want to see other kids in other countries.”
In the meantime, Kelsea is focusing on her studies, her current app business, and, of course, basketball. “I love basketball,” she says. “I’ve been playing it as long as I can remember.” Being on the court helps Kelsea release energy and build character. “Me being really analytical, I just overthink everything,” she says. “Basketball is my chance to kind of just not think and use more reflex.”
While Kelsea’s brain works differently on the court, she definitely brings to the game the same tenacity she has for her studies and business ventures. When asked what she wants her teammates to remember her for, her answer sums up much of her lifestyle. “I want them to remember that I always hustled, no matter what. I want to be remembered that if there was anything I could do to make something happen, that I will do it. If there was ever a loose ball, I would dive for it, and I would do whatever it takes to get it.”
Kelsea’s game-time energy is evident the moment the team leaves the locker room. “I won’t walk out,” she says. “I just have to run. I can’t ever just walk out to the court.” Additionally, she has to make a free throw during warm ups. “No matter what, I have to make a free throw before I play. If I don’t make a free throw, even if the buzzer’s down and the coach is like, ‘okay guys, get over here,’ I still have to make a free throw.” If she doesn’t get that free throw in? “It makes me nervous.”
One of her most memorable moments on the court was the basket that might have been. It was Dixie’s last home game, and Snow Canyon was up by two when they bumped the ball out of bounds. “We had literally .3 seconds on the clock, so basically we had to throw the ball in and shoot it,” Kelsea recalls. She was chosen to be the person to shoot that ball. “Where they had it out of bounds, it was right next to the half court line, and they were going to guard us like crazy. I had to literally get it and shoot it from wherever I was, and the only open spot was so far away from the three point line.”
Kelsea caught the pass and took her shot, and it looked perfect. “I was like, ‘oh my goodness this is actually going to go in,’ and it barely skimmed the hoop and just went down.” Dixie lost, and Keslea was disappointed, but she vowed it would never happen in a game against Snow Canyon again. “If we have a buzzer beater, I’m gonna shoot it, and I’m gonna make it!” With Kelsea’s persistent personality, she probably will.
Her second most memorable moment is when she got elbowed in the eye at a camp game at SUU. Mindi relates that Keslea was bleeding but didn’t recognize how bad it was and didn’t want to get off the court. “I am not one to sit out because of an injury unless I am literally broken.”
“I don’t know why negative moments like that are memorable,” Keslea says, after relating the two stories above, “but it motivates me to do better.”
Negative moments aren’t the only thing about basketball that motivates Kelsea. “It’s amazing how much sports have helped me in everything,” she says. “With my education and my app and being so busy, sometimes it’s hard to make that extra push.” Her experiences with physical fatigue help her realize how much energy she really has. “It’s amazing,” she says. “In the moment of basketball or just exercising in general, I feel so tired I just want to quit more than anything.” But, she doesn’t.
“She is more persistent than any teenager I’ve ever known. She just won’t rest until she finishes what she sets out to do.” – Mindy Barker
“I know that pain is just something we feel,” is her philosophy. She tells herself that pain is just an emotion, a feeling. “I can get through this.” This physical stamina on the court carries over into her busy life. “When I’m making my app or I’m really stressed out because of school, I just remind myself, ‘Kelsea, you push yourself in basketball. This isn’t new to you and you can do it. If you push yourself in basketball, you can push yourself in anything.’”
With her positive attitude and ingrained persistence, Kelsea is sure to have a great season both on and off the court. • HSSI