Hurricane has something really special in point guard Kylee Stevens. The junior has an obsession that will serve her well as she continues through the season and into the next for the Lady Tigers. Her obsession? Shatter self-doubt.
As a sophomore Kylee faced a very difficult challenge that, at the time, no one knew what was going on, not even Kylee and her family. What everyone had supposed was happening was so far from reality that it truly tested Kylee as a person and seeded her newfound obsession. “Everyone thought I was lazy,” she remembers. “Last year I had some trouble with my blood because I didn’t have enough iron. It was really hard for me to play and we didn’t know what was wrong with me. It was difficult because everyone just thought I was out of shape.”
“I’ve learned that your mind is your biggest ally. As soon as you begin believing what everyone is thinking or saying about you is true you go backwards. But, if you keep a positive attitude about everything you do better,” affirms Kylee.
Sally Stephens, Kylee’s mother, shares how Kylee matured through the process and dealing with the child/player parent/coach dynamic. “What has impressed me most about Kylee would be her willingness to always do her best, no matter the situation, without anyone having to tell her. As an assistant coach it’s really special to be in the gym with your child everyday. She has been fantastic and we have a lot of respect for each other.”
“I’ve learned that your mind is your biggest ally. As soon as you begin believing what everyone is thinking or saying about you is true you go backwards.”
Regarding the serious challenge her daughter faced in her sophomore season and its overall impact on her Kylee, Sally shares some insights that few will appreciate more. “The hardest moment for me as a parent and coach was watching her during that time. She has always been a really aggressive player,” Sally recalls. “Then all of a sudden she was just doing a lot of standing around, not really doing anything. It was a little frustrating for Luke, her dad, myself, as well as some of the other coaches. She wasn’t playing like she usually did. After some time and finally getting her to the doctor to see if something more was going on we found out her iron was really low and she was lucky that should could even run, let alone play. It was hard because we didn’t know at the time. How could we? But just watching her go through that, and then watching her turn that around, not letting that get to her, and working through it, I am very proud of her for not giving up on herself.”
“I think that sports has taught me to be persistent and keep aiming for the best possible outcome.” Kylee continues, “I love everything about basketball and what it teaches me. I am looking forward to playing every team, and every game in region. I want to out hustle every other player.” That very hustle extends beyond the hardwood.
Internal and external motivators are important to Kylee. Remembering a quote get father Luke repeats often has helped her overcome her challenges and drives her to push beyond self-imposed limits and belief. Uttered by the fictional character Rocky Balboa, kylee frequently reflects upon its message and impact for herself, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place… and I don´t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently, if you let it. You, me or nobody, is gonna hit as hard as life. But ain’t about how hard you hit… It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward… how much you can take, and keep moving forward. That´s how winning is done.”
With that self-introspection, Kylee places upon herself the burden of improvement, of the drive to be even better than the previous times she steps out on the floor, practice, game or otherwise. “I will play every game and give it 100%, but to be successful we have to get out of region. I would like to score a few more points this season over last, so for me, if those things happen then this season will be a success.”
To reach such a personal goal Kylee counts herself lucky that she not only has teammates to compete with who have the same mentality but that the team chemistry is built in. “We are all best friends,” she shares. “We are not part of separate groups [on campus] we are all part of the same group and that has made us really close and strong. On weekends we all hang our together so we are more like a little family. It makes it really nice, not everyone has that. School dances, activities, we do everything together.”
As a junior with no returning seniors on the team Kylee has been asked to utilize her experience and take on more of a leadership role for the team. “It’s cool to see her step up and take on that role to help lead for the team,” Sally conveys. “A year ago if you had asked me if she could fill that role I would have said no way, she does not want the attention and responsibility. So, to see her mature that way has been great.”
Kylee knows who she is. The Lady Tiger has done well to shatter any self-doubt and limiting beliefs. Learning to work through very personal challenges and adversity does that to a person. Despite everything though Kylee knows, “I can’t take anything for granted.”
Take a moment, and ask Kylee just who she is and you will most likely get this response, “Well, I play soccer and basketball and I am a pretty quiet person,” she says. “I am a member of the LDS church try and do my best to live the gospel.” • HSSI