Michael Westbrook knows a little something about speed after an eight-year NFL career as a wide receiver, but he still wasn’t prepared for the mad dash of his two-year-old daughter.
In 1998, he took toddler Ky to the movies and found a seat near the top of the theater. Not surprisingly, she soon got bored and began to descend down the aisle. Once Ky turned a corner out of sight, Michael told her to stop and come back.
Instead, she gave him a look and took off. It was the first time he saw her sprint, and fifteen years later, it’s still fresh in his mind.
“I couldn’t believe how fast she was moving,” Michael Westbrook said. “Then she did this jump in the air and plopped down and looked at me. Her mom had her hand over her mouth (in amazement). From then on she’s been an athlete.”
Westbrook’s pint-sized dash was a sign of things to come.
She excelled in all sports as a kid, playing on mostly boys teams, and it soon became clear her track and field prowess was unmatched.
Her high school career has been well-chronicled. Westbrook won three individual state championships at the Division I state meet this season and set state records in the 200-meter dash (23.39 seconds) and shot put (47 feet, 9 inches) to garner a second straight Female Athlete of the Year award.
She is currently in Donetsk, Ukraine, preparing for the start of the IAAF World Youth Championships on July 10, and while the fruits of her labor are paying off now, it wasn’t always this easy to stay focused.
Westbrook said it gets repetitive on the track, especially during the times when she only trains for the sprints.
At one point when she was 11 or 12, she even decided to give it up.
“I got up the nerve to ask my dad about quitting, but he just said no,” she said. “I’m glad, though. I trained for all those years when I was little and now I have all these amazing opportunities.”
While she is superhuman during the spring and summer, Ky does take some time out during the fall to play on the girls volleyball team. She enjoys the team camaraderie and the ability to be a run-of-the-mill high school athlete instead of a superstar
“It’s a nice break,” she said, “and it reminds me why I do track instead of volleyball.”
When Ky was young, the goal was never to just win a race, but to set records. Michael always pushed her to aim high, even if she didn’t think she could meet the expectations. So now as she mows down state records that previously stood for decades, Ky doesn’t appear overwhelmed.
“She never makes a huge deal out of it because this is what she thinks she was made for,” Michael Westbrook said.
Ky has already established herself as the premier athlete in the East Valley, but even bigger things could be on the horizon.
Not only will she do the sprints and shot put next year as a senior, but she’s adding the hurdles and long jump into her arsenal.
And, like usual, the expectations aren’t just to win those events, but to break records.
“There’s going to be some magic next year,” Michael Westbrook said.