Kendell Wilcox – Michigan Nomination by Shannon Wilcox Photography by Randy Jones Photography Issue 73 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Kendell Wilcox is a very active hard working young lady. She participates in cross country, sideline cheer, competitive cheer, indoor and outdoor track at Shepherd High School. She has made it to the MSHAA state track meets for the past 3 years and was all state 2 of those years. On top of her athletics she is a member of the national honor society and is also involved in student council, rotary and Bluejay wellness. Outside of school she is involved in 4H, helps out with Special Olympics and works as a gymnastics coach at the Mt. Pleasant Gymnastics academy.
Photography by Randy Jones Photography
When did you start running and what do you love most about it? I started running in fourth grade. What I love most about running is how running can tech you valuable lessons. In running I have learned that success comes with hard work and the importance of never giving up. Running has taught me that I am stronger than I thought and more capable than I imagined.
What is a favorite accomplishment from cross country? My favorite accomplishment from cross country has been being able to finally finish races despite hardships faced. When I first started running I was always a top runner, then when my back problems began I could barely run a mile. Now, four years later, I have been able to not only finish races, but also do well in them too.
What is a track goal you've accomplished and what is one you have in sight? One track goal I have accomplished has been qualifying for the MHSAA state meet three times and making all state twice. Another huge accomplishment was being a part of the 2023 state champion team. One goal I have in sight is the school record which my mom actually holds. I am one inch off and hope to get that goal this season.
Tell us about your cheer career. I started cheering when I was in kindergarten doing the kids clinics at my school. I always loved cheer but when I got to middle school I chose to pursue dance. My freshman year I decided I wanted to try out for the cheer team and have been a Varsity cheerleader ever since. Currently, I am a senior and a team captain. I often compete in all three rounds of competition and am one of the best tumblers on the team.
What are your cheer teams like and what is a favorite memory with each of them? My cheer team is like my family. The sideline team is more relaxed and fun. We have lots of laughs together and they never fail to make me smile and have made football games some of the highlights of my high school career. One memory in particular from the sideline I love is ice cream breakfast with my team the morning of the homecoming football game. We have a total of four performances as well as a tailgate, parade, and game that day so we spend our morning laughing and eating ice cream sundaes together before the craziness starts.My competitive team is how I would describe family. We fight sometimes but we love each other like crazy. It takes a lot of trust in each other to do the things we do and the competitive team is one I wouldn't trade for anything. One memory I have with this team is Christmas at our coaches house. We always have a gingerbread house contest and there are so many laughs and good times.
Photography by Randy Jones Photography
What do you love most about being in the NHS? What I love the most about the NHS is being given so many opportunities to give back to my community. I love volunteering and being able to help the people who have been such an impact to my life. I also love being surrounded with others who love to volunteer and being a part of an amazing organization.
What has your favorite service project been in the NHS? My favorite service project has been helping with the blood drives at our school. This is my favorite because as an athlete I am not always able to donate myself so being able to assist others and help to encourage them to donate makes my day. I enjoy the blood drives also because they are super important and we are always in need.
What leadership opportunities have you had in the student council? In the student council I directly represent my grade and help to make decisions for the whole. I have had the opportunity to head committees such as the pep assemblies for homecoming and the food drives we have. As a leader of these committees I coordinate with administrators and help my other committee members with their specific responsibilities.
What is rotary and what are your roles and responsibilities? Rotary is another volunteer group I am a part of. In Rotary we do a lot of community service and help raise money for charity organizations. One fundraiser we have done is purple pinkies for polio. At basketball games we charge a dollar (or any donation offered) and you get your pinky nail painted purple. All the money raised goes to charities for polio.
Photography by Shannon Wilcox
Tell us about Bluejay wellness and why your involvement is important to you. Bluejay wellness is a mental health advocate group. We recently took up a program called be nice where we have specific training and more opportunities for summits and other large group gatherings. Bluejay wellness is important to me because the stigma around mental health needs to be broken. I believe strongly that mental health is just as important if not more important than physical health. In Bluejay wellness we are trained in suicide prevention and warning signs. My involvement in this group means I could help someone in need.
What do you participate in 4H that you are most excited about? In 4h I show dairy feeders and goats. I also do various still exhibit projects and volunteer projects. I am most excited to learn more about showing this year and become a better showman. Every year I learn and grow more as I raise and show my animals and I am excited to see the growth this year brings.
When did you start volunteering with the Special Olympics and what do you do when you volunteer? I started volunteering with the Special Olympics seven years ago. One way I volunteer is at the summer games. I help at events and work with athletes as they compete. Another way I volunteer is with my mom’s Area 7 cheer team. I help to teach cheers, help the athletes learn to stunt, and encourage them as they perform.
What have you learned about yourself coaching others in gymnastics? One thing I have learned about myself from coaching others is that the only thing holding you back is your own mind. Mental blocks can be huge and I see them all the time in the kids I coach. In myself I see these mental blocks too. When I am learning a new skill in cheer that seems scary I hold myself back because of the fear I will fail. In track when I fail a height I get in my head and feel like it's impossible. Coaching has shown me this in myself but has also taught me to overcome it. When I coach others I tell them to stay out of their heads and believe in themselves, this same phrasing is what I tell myself when I have mental blocks too.
What is your strongest leadership quality in this area? My strongest leadership quality in coaching is my ability to connect with the kids I coach. They trust my judgment more and respect me more if I respect them and we form a bond. This helps me to be a leader because I know they will be listening and following me as I teach them new skills because of the bonds we have formed together.
Photography by Shannon Wilcox
If you had nothing to do and all day to do it, where would we find you? If I had nothing to do and all day to do it you would probably find me on a beach. I love the sand and the water. I especially love the ocean. You would likely find me here early in the morning watching as the sun rises over the water.
What is up next for you that you are super excited about? Up next for me is college athletics. I have verbally committed to a D1 school and am excited to continue running track at the D1 level. I am excited for the new experiences this will bring and the new bonds I will form.
Look for Kendell in issue 73 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!