Growing up around male cousins instilled a love of sports in McKenzie Gray.
"I grew up to love sports," said McKenzie, a 13-year-old rising freshman at Evans High School. "It also keeps me in shape."
Whether she's running track or playing soccer or basketball, McKenzie enjoys being outdoors playing sports. She also holds a third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and recently was in Marion, Ala., attending a world tournament for black belts at the Marion Military Institute.
"I've been for the past two years," McKenzie said. "You have to be a black belt at age 13 or over to go."
McKenzie began taking Tae Kwon Do when she was 6 years old. Today, she is a student at Terry Newton's Tae Kwon Do Academy in Martinez.
As an eighth-grader at Columbia Middle School, McKenzie played soccer and basketball and ran track. She was even invited to try out for the Evans High Junior Varsity soccer team by Coach Troy Willard.
McKenzie Gray, a rising freshman at Evans High School, is an honors student, a third-degree black belt in tae kwon do, runs track and plays basketball and soccer.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"McKenzie joined up here with us at EHS along with (two other players) after the season at CMS," Willard said. "She didn't get much playing time since I had such a large group of ninth- and tenth-graders. She worked very hard for me the short time I had her and really hustled."
"She's got a lot of drive," said Ryan Morningstar, soccer coach at Columbia Middle School. "When she gets her mind on things, she's going to achieve them. Defense was kind of an unknown area this year, and she was able to step in and do what she could do."
McKenzie is quick to admit that basketball is her favorite sport, saying that last year was her first year playing soccer on an organized team.
"Basketball's probably my favorite sport," she says, adding that she was on the Upward League team at Warren Baptist Church, where she helps teach Sunday school to 2 and 3 year olds. "I just have a lot of fun with it."
A straight-A honor student, McKenzie, the daughter of Chris and Robyn Gray of Grovetown, isn't all about sports, though.
She has been inducted into Who's Who, invited to attend two People-to-People World Leadership forums and was a member of the Columbia Middle School Beta Club.
She also was a member of the school chorus, having earned the most improved honor during her seventh-grade year.
A young woman who likes to sing and act, McKenzie will head to Evans High in the fall with a tough academic schedule ahead of her. She will be among a handful of incoming students to be taught Spanish II as a freshman.
"I want to go to college," she said of her academic work. "I want to be a lawyer - go to the University of Georgia and possibly Harvard."
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