Local Sports Hero31 August 2015 Written by By Michelle Lassle
Published in September 2015 Articles
Kailee Gross created her life motto after surviving what should have been a deadly car accident, one where her family’s car was hit by a semi-truck.
“I took that moment to mean there was a reason why I’m still on this earth,” Kailee said. Decisions or ideas that she had been on the fence about were suddenly given the green light, including Kailee’s desire to play on the Heritage High School boys’ football team. “I always had an interest in football,” Kailee said. “My brother’s high school had a girl kicker, and I thought I could do that too. What’s the difference between me and a boy?” Kailee had already expressed interest to the football coach but never fully pursued it. This time she reached out to him with the definite decision that she was going to try out no matter what. “You only get one chance at high school, so why not try everything?”
Part of the reason why Kailee knew she could handle being on the football field was because of her background as a goalkeeper. She began her soccer career when she was four years old and never stopped. “I was always a very energetic child, so signing me up for soccer was my parents’ way of getting me to sleep at night,” Kailee said. She transitioned onto a competition team at the age of six and continued until her freshman year at Heritage. At that point she decided to focus solely on high school commitments. As a freshman Kailee made it onto the varsity soccer team, as well as the freshman volleyball team. When there was a lull in soccer practices, Kailee went to try out for volleyball for fun just to get out of the house. “I didn’t intend on making the volleyball team. I was shocked because I’d never touched or seen a volleyball before.” So she competed for the school the one year and then returned to just soccer her sophomore year.
Now as a junior Kailee is adding football to her list, which she could not be more excited about. “I told the coach that I’m a goalkeeper, and I’m not afraid of getting hit or intimidated by a bunch of boys,” Kailee said. “The coach said he’d see me during the summer and that’s what I spent my time doing. I love it. There’s no other way to describe it other than perfect.” Kailee had intended on also participating in the school’s golf program, another sport she began with her family and fell in love with, but it was too much of a conflicting time commitment with her academic schedule. However, she does plan on trying out for shotput on the track and field team in the spring. “As of now there aren’t any girls on the team, so I figured I might as well occupy myself with a spring sport,” Kailee said. “If my calendar isn’t full, I’m not doing something right in my day.”
While Kailee is an incredible athlete, she is also an unbelievable person, dedicating what spare time she has left to helping others. She is part of the LINK Crew at Heritage, a leadership class that welcomes freshman and helps them to feel less intimidated by the new school experience. “Throughout the year you check on them and make sure they’re doing Okay in their classes, and you show them that high school isn’t scary,” Kailee said. She also finds time to join the other Christian athletes in FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes). During the summer when she’s not in school Kailee is helping teach American culture, traditions, and English to foreign exchange students. “My mom brings a group of exchange students from different countries to Brentwood for the summer.”
As a high school athlete Kailee has been successful in maintaining a 3.8 GPA, placing her on the Scholar Athlete list. She was also on the 2nd Team as a freshman and sophomore. Her work load is about to increase, however, with AP Biology and Biotechnology on her class list. Her interest in those difficult fields stems from a dream major in prosthetics. “I’ve always had a heart for helping people,” Kailee said. While at the beach on vacation Kailee watched a paraplegic man struggle to drag himself and his sit-down surfboard up the beach after falling into the waves. “It really bothered me that everyone just stood there and watched him. Even though he had prosthetic limbs, it hit me that there are people who can’t do sports in the world.” That experience paired with a love for the Special Olympics led Kailee to want to give kids and adults limbs to play sports.
Even in her junior year Kailee has already begun thinking about her future. In addition to her dream major, Kailee has an idea of a dream school also. “I would love to go to school in San Diego because that’s where I’m from,” Kailee said, “but to me, college is college. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big university, as long as you’re getting the proper education for your job.” Ultimately Kailee would love to be somewhere near water where she can remain active. As for soccer, “I would love to play soccer in college if someone offered me to, but I’m not going to center my whole life on the sport.”