Kirby steps into the spotlight


Kassie Villars

Junior shooting guard Teja Kirby goes around a Chief Sealth defender on Dec. 10. Kirby has been a standout this season for the Lady Eagles, earning All-Metro Honorable Mention.

Ronnie Estoque and Ramsey Castillo

For everything, there is a season. For Teja Kirby, this basketball season belongs to her. Kirby is having a breakout year as a key player on a team that is still working on putting all the pieces in place. So far this season, Kirby’s performance has stood out to her teammates and fans alike. She is motivated by her desire to take her team as far as they can go.

“I feel like this year I have a bigger job,” Kirby said. “Last year, there were other people who had other roles and this year I have a different role.”

Kirby realizes that in order to do her part, she has to step up to be an example to the newer teammates. The fact that she is one of the last members of the Cleveland team that won back-to-back state titles verifies her credibility.

“I’m more confident this year than the other years,” Kirby said. “I’m an upperclassman so I feel it’s a thing I have to do as someone older, to show an example.”

The beginning of the season began with a series of challenges for Kirby. The coach she’d played under for two years, Stephenie Wheeler-Smith, took a job in Oregon, and Jamie Reed was hired to fill the head coach position. Adding to that, a plethora of new and young rising stars were challenged with filling in the shoes of key players who graduated last year.

“I think that everybody, myself included, are getting adjusted well and getting a hang of her [Coach Jamie Reed] coaching style and developing chemistry,” Kirby said.

Kirby has also had to navigate through a more personal obstacle in her life: her mom’s death in 2013.

“It’s hard losing anybody, but my mom always supported me in anything I did, so it just makes me want to work harder for her,” Kirby said.

Other girls on the team have taken notice of Kirby’s blossoming confidence on the court. Junior Ryshun Sampson said Kirby “stays positive, but quiet and does [things] to keep players on task.”

Kirby and Sampson have known each other since sixth grade, and their relationship, as Sampson explains it, is “like sisters.”

Kirby has come a long way since her freshmen year of playing basketball, but she has never lost the drive to win. With everything swirling around her on and off the court, she still manages to be a composed player on the Lady Eagles team. She’s prepared to take the shots that will get her team to its desired destination.

“My goal is to play for everybody on the court, and not to worry about what everyone on the outside thinks.”