The Ballard Talisman

Freshman girl plays for school football team

Kiyomi King shares her experience being the only female in the program

Kiyomi+King+at+game+against+West+Seattle.
Kiyomi King at game against West Seattle.

Kiyomi King at game against West Seattle.

Elliot Armitage

Elliot Armitage

Kiyomi King at game against West Seattle.

Paige Anderson, Staff Reporter

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Freshman Kiyomi King is more than just a 5-foot-1-inch, 14-year-old girl. She’s a football player who started playing the game to prove to others, and herself, that she’s more than what meets the eye.

When King was in sixth grade she decided to join the Interbay Eagles, a member of the Washington Junior Football League. It was her first sport ever, and she decided to join the team because she admired the intensity and aggression.

“Football was my first sport and I thought I’d give it a try,” King said. “It’s really complicated and I’ve never done anything like it.”

Through the program, King learned how to play the sport and build a work ethic to help her gain confidence in her playing abilities.

“Interbay taught me the basics in the sport because I knew absolutely nothing going in,” King said. “I’d go on the field with my dad every weekend and we’d practice catching balls, we’d practice the plays and runs.”

King is currently playing on the freshman team with people who she met through Interbay, such as freshmen Jalen Edwards and Milan Bailey.

“She’s not afraid to be judged,” Edwards said. “She’s capable of doing whatever she wants.”

Edwards and King have known each other since seventh grade where they played on the same team. “Our whole team is really proud of her,” he said. “She’s family.”

Milan Bailey, who has known King since sixth grade, met her through school but heard about her because they both played for Interbay.

“She works harder than everyone on the team,” Bailey said. “She puts in all the effort that she can.”

Bailey mentioned that even though King is on the smaller side, she doesn’t let her size stop her from playing to the best of her abilities.

“She’s pretty small compared to everyone else but she’s tough and she can hold her own,” Bailey said.

Both Bailey and head coach, Ross Humphries, can see that even though King is just five-foot-one, she’s perfectly capable of doing her part on the field.

“You need to be pretty smart and pretty athletic to play because you have to diagnose quickly,” Humphries said when talking about King’s position on defense. “The positions that she plays, she gets the job done. She does a good job.”

This year King is playing on the offensive line and flex on defense, a hybrid linebacker, defensive back position.

“Early on, going in drills, some of the boys were hesitant, ‘do I go as hard as I can against her, do I take it easy?’” Humphries said. “But, I think after Kiyomi gets up and strikes one of them, they realize they can’t hold back.”  

Being in a male dominated sport, King is surrounded by people who, when they first meet her, don’t think she can handle it due to her gender and size. “I can take a hit,” King said. “I know that I have to be physical.”

Although King is confident in her strength, other people, such as King’s mom, occasionally worry about her playing such an aggressive game.

“When she said she wanted to play, I was worried about her because I don’t see many girls on football teams,” King’s mom, Jennifer King, said. “But, she’s really passionate about it.”

Since King has started football, her mom is now more than thrilled to have her daughter play.

“It’s great she’s out there, inspiring other girls to get out of their comfort zones,” Jennifer King said. “I admire her for overcoming her own fears and challenging herself physically and mentally.”

King’s mom also mentioned how football is a great sport for cross training because King plays volleyball, lacrosse, snowboarding and she plans on doing wrestling this winter.   

           “I’m trying to prove to myself that I can be more,” King said. “I can be like the people I play with.”

King has taken away multiple things from the sport, the main one is her being able to show herself and others that she’s more than just a nice girl.

“I’ve been pretty outgoing since football because if I can do that, I can do a lot of outgoing things,” King said. “I wanted to test who I could be.”

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Freshman girl plays for school football team