Senior guard Kailyn Watkins helped give the Crenshaw Cougars girls basketball team a competitive edge this season. Her contributions helped the Cougars get a 22-7 overall record and a perfect 10-0 record in the Coliseum League.
Alcorn State University, a HBCU in Mississippi, was the first school to offer Watkins admissions.
With an ability to push the pace and penetrate in the paint, Watkins helped Crenshaw best the likes of Santa Monica, Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and Mira Costa.
Watkins played varsity all four years; she knew her speed and moxie were assets on the court.
“I was always fast,” Watkins said. “I would use what I know, and I like contact, I’m not scared. I don’t back down to anything.”
Watkins is a co-captain of the Cougars girls’ basketball team. Taking on the role taught her how to take criticism and hold herself accountable.
“You have to really step up to the plate, even if they get mad at you,” Watkins said. “I have to take control, put everybody where they’re supposed to be.”
Playing for the AAU team Cal Swish taught her the importance of mental toughness. Two years ago, Watkins was the leading scorer of the team. The next season, she earned little to no playing time. While she could not understand why her role changed, she made the best of the predicament.
“When I did get out there, I did try my best, I did give my all every time I got on that court,” Watkins said. “I feel like no matter what other people think, you know what you’re capable of doing.”
Through Cal Swish, she got the opportunity to compete in Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Arizona and Oregon. Being on the road means foregoing traditions in the name of skill building and competition.
“I wasn’t home for the Fourth of July, everybody’s home for the Fourth of July,” Watkins said. “You have to sacrifice a lot of things and just do your best when you’re out there.”
Being a student athlete means being coachable and respectable, according to Watkins. She knows that competing at a high level and getting high academic marks are both urgent.
“Once you start something, you start to get used to it,” Watkins said. “If you have a schedule and you follow that schedule, you’ll be fine even on your tired days.”
Watkins’ favorite class is Anatomy and Physiology, an honors class she took during the fall semester. She desires to get into the medical field and ultimately become an anesthesiologist.
“I want to major in nursing,” Watkins said. “I like learning about the body, it’s really interesting to me.”
To add on more knowledge about health, she took a physical training class and learned how to wrap wounds; this further encouraged her to pursue being a nurse.
Watkins used to be involved in the Link Crew, a school spirit club, and the Crew Club, a Christian club. Being with the Crew Club was like family for Watkins.
“They really brought you under their wing,” she said. “If you need anything, you can go to them about anything. It helped a lot of people out.”
When Watkins was a member of Link Crew, she used to help put together festivals and fundraisers. She knows that encouraging school spirit is imperative.
“Schools have been around for many years, everybody knows that,” Watkins said. “When people come back it’s important to have the same intensity that everyone else had.”