By Liana James and Saeri Plagmann, Clarion Staff
Coming from Arizona in 2016, Kennedy senior Mia Santos was quick to make a name for herself in just the short time she has been here by exceeding in academics and athletics. Her achievements have caught the attention of the community far and wide, earning her titles such as All-American by Under Armor and All-West Coast by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.
When she arrived at Kennedy, Mia felt nervous and out of place as any new student at a new high school. Helping her to adjust and make friends was her passion for sports, involvement in the community, and a positive attitude, although she personally feels her energetic personality to have contributed to her adjustment the most.
Back in Arizona, Mia played four different sports and was part of both the American Sign Language and drama club. Her successful journey at Kennedy began when Aaron Pollock, the girls volleyball coach and science teacher at Kennedy, asked her to coach volleyball to middle school students.
As an older sister who had experience in coaching her siblings soccer for fun, Mia was well prepared for the leadership role that Pollock had presented her with. “I was happy to accept because I love coaching and teaching people stuff that I am passionate about,” she said. It was being able to watch kids grow and learn, as well as seeing their desire for the sport expand, that encouraged her to continue teaching kids even after she graduates from college.
Although having been exposed to a variety of sports growing up, softball remains her top choice as it connects back to her childhood aspirations of wanting to follow in her father’s footsteps: a college baseball player. When Mia first started playing at the age of six, she found it difficult to stand out in her neighborhood. The constant support she received from family and friends, including her own motivation, had helped her to finally succeed and make All-State.
Obstacles faced in sports were nothing new to Mia, but those from academics were ones that required more time to overcome. The move to California provided plenty of academic struggles with different teaching styles and requirements. It was not long, however, before balancing academic life and athletic life came easy; connecting with teachers helped to keep her on track, and time management was a skill she had mastered at a young age.
One of Mia’s greatest accomplishments at Kennedy was creating the American Sign Language Club. Sacramento has one of the largest deaf communities in the state, and Kennedy did not have any classes or clubs that promoted awareness. “I created the club to get deaf awareness out and help people to be able to connect with the deaf community,” she said. In order to keep supporting the deaf community, Mia plans to attend conventions where the deaf and the mute go to interact while she attends Sacramento City College.
Much of Mia’s success came from her family and friends who have always pushed her to be her best in all sports. She was taught to give service to others, which not only benefited those in need but allowed for her to realize her passion for contributing to the community. As a graduating student this year, Mia hopes to be able to continue what she set out to do as a child: become a college softball player and contribute her talents to the community.