Column: The sporting world needs more humble athletes

Kingman High’s Holly Tsosie exhibits the kind of humility that makes it easy for fans to root for athletes like her.

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Kingman High’s Holly Tsosie exhibits the kind of humility that makes it easy for fans to root for athletes like her.

Throughout my time covering high school sports, one aspect that I’ve enjoyed is the different personalities I encounter with each athlete.

At the collegiate and professional level, many talented individuals let success go to their heads.

That, however, isn’t usually the case with high school competitors.

I’ve noticed that some of the most successful athletes are the ones that don’t have a lot to say.

A prime example is Kingman High’s Holly Tsosie.

The Lady Bulldog tallied three top-10 finishes in running events at the AIA Division III Track and Field State Championship, but wasn’t one to talk at length about it. She eventually told me how she felt about her accomplishments, but you won’t find her bragging about them.

The same can be said of Kingman Academy’s Amberlee Steed.

When I interviewed the Lady Tiger, she was just happy for the opportunity to make it to state. That’s saying a lot considering she entered as the No. 2-seed in the shot put and lived up to expectations with a fourth-place finish.

I’ve witnessed the same humility in a number of other athletes in Kingman and during my time in New Mexico. It’s refreshing as a sports reporter to see individuals find success and not let it go to their heads. In today’s day and age, talented individuals without big egos are few and far between.

While I did say most collegiate and professional athletes don’t fall into this category, there is one that I feel does – Kawhi Leonard.

The former member of the San Diego State University men’s basketball team has always let his game do the talking. That is still the case with the San Antonio Spurs, and it’s crazy to see how much he’s matured.

When I first met him during the summer before he started at SDSU, he was quiet, well-mannered and stuck to himself. Even my outgoing personality couldn’t change that.

Nevertheless, Leonard’s attitude on and off the court is what helped lead him to a NBA Finals MVP and back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards.

His work ethic alone should be enough for high school athletes to know that they can be special without hyping themselves up.

But yet, we have basketball players such as UCLA’s Lonzo Ball that create so much publicity that isn’t warranted. His talent on the court is being overshadowed by signature basketball shoes, family drama and everything else in between.

If more athletes had similar attitudes as Tsosie, Steed and Leonard, they’d be better off and, more likely, go further in life.

With that said, I know that’s part of the sports world. Some competitors will let their game do the talking and others will attempt to talk the walk, but not live up to expectations.

At the end of the day though, I know the best of the best will make their names known by flying under the radar with the least amount of attention.