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Kayla Grant

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Kayla Grant

Member of the CDSWOY Class of 2023
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Written by Adam Shinder, The Daily Gazette

Whether it’s changing sports amid a global pandemic or throwing herself into a laundry list of extracurricular activities, Kayla Grant is all about having an adventurous spirit and an open mind.

It’s something that started at a young age, when a 9-year-old Grant found one of her biggest passions: Nordic skiing.

“I came home from school and begged my dad to buy me a pair of Nordic skis, because I’d done it in gym class,” Grant said. “He went and bought them at a [secondhand] winter store — I can picture the store still — and I’d just ski around my yard.”

Grant went on to become a five-year varsity member of the Lake George High School Nordic team and a two-year team captain. She also competed in three years of varsity cross country and four years of track and field, in addition to excelling in the classroom, serving as a leader in multiple school organizations, and volunteering in the Lake George community.

Grant’s “can-do” attitude embodies why she’s been recognized as one of the Capital District Sports Women of the Year scholastic honorees for 2023.

“While she is surely talented, it is her determination, her work ethic and her passion for these sports that is unusual in this day and age,” Lake George cross country coach Garrett Smith wrote in his nomination letter. “If you add her humility, friendliness and sense of humor, you have the fabulous kid she is.”

Grant came to cross country running later in her athletic development. Growing up, her fall sport was soccer, but during the 2020-21 school year, she said she reached the point where, “for my mental health as an athlete, that it was getting very hard to stay on [the soccer team] and be happy.”

She switched to cross country, and “ended up falling in love with it from day one.”

Among Grant’s fondest memories was being part of Lake George’s Adirondack League championship team in the fall of 2021.

“That sense of community it gave me and realizing how far we could take it as a group, that was really cool,” she said.

Grant’s love of cross country running also led to a change in her event lineup for track and field, moving from hurdles to distance events and the steeplechase.

She competed in three sports while maintaining a 3.83 grade-point average and winning numerous academic awards. She also excelled musically, playing clarinet in the jazz band and senior band, and as part of the New York State School Music Association. She was selected to participate in both the Lake Placid and Castleton music festivals.

A leader on the Lake George campus, Grant was a class officer in 2021-22 and class vice president this past year, vice president of the National Honor Society and president of the school’s Anti-Bullying Committee — something she’s been a part of since 2019. Grant — also a dedicated volunteer for the Lake George Youth Commission, assisting with the Trick or Treat Trail since 2017 — never hesitated to try anything new. Already a member of the Art Honor Society, Art Club and Spanish Club, this past school year she joined the Fishing Club on a whim.

“A lot of it was finding something new and just getting out there,” she said. “With Fishing Club, I hadn’t really fished. I was just like, ‘Seems fun,’ and then I tried it.”

In his nomination letter, Lake George Nordic ski coach Phillip Gengel was effusive with praise for Grant.

“Kayla is goal-oriented and is always willing to help with the workload, possessing a maturity beyond her years,” Gengel wrote. “She is intrinsically motivated to achieve and improve, and is always willing to go above and beyond without regard for credit or compensation.”

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