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2015 Students of Distinction: Michala Zilkey

Michala Zilkey became involved in athletics at age 5 and has since participated in more than half dozen sports. In high school, she has been on three varsity teams.

“I’m a naturally competitive person. I found that in sports I can really get into it and do a lot of work, and also build relationships,” she said.

She followed in her father’s and sister’s shoes to play basketball, and has also played tennis, soccer and softball. In high school, basketball, track and field and volleyball became her primary sports.

Her numerous accolades in athletics include multiple distinctions as athlete of the week, month and year. She has served as captain of her basketball team. In track and field, she has set a school record and has also placed at the top in discus at state.

“Her level of participation, on-demand thinking and sheer ability are assets to our athletic programs at Peninsula High School,” said her English teacher, Andrea Kurtz, who has attended several of Zilkey’s games.

Zilkey has used her passion for sports to give back. She volunteered as a coach for Peninsula Hawks Hoops girls basketball team and for Peninsula’s volleyball camp.

“That’s always fun because you get to build young girls’ self-esteem in sports,” she said.

Last year, Zilkey was a Running Start student, taking both college and Peninsula classes. She’s maintained an excellent GPA while keeping a very busy schedule.

She said the secret to her success was the ability to find a pattern and schedule carefully — which could be a challenge, considering her commitments also include a part-time job. But she said it’s also been important for her to leave free time for her family and friends.

“Michala is the kind of young woman every teacher dreams of having in their classroom,” Kurtz said. “Michala is a role model to her peers, both academically and personally.”

Zilkey said she was shy when she was young but has become a different person.

“I’ve come out of my shell, and I feel it’s OK to show people you’re not perfect,” she said.

She’s enjoyed being able to show leadership skills and to help others overcome situations similar to hers.

Zilkey plans to attend Utah State University on an athletic scholarship. She will study kinesiology with the goal of becoming an occupational or physical therapist and work in a field related to sports.

“Michala’s character, maturity, discipline and caring spirit are exceptional,” Kurtz said.

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