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Young Trailblazer Nominee

KiZhana (Kiki) Cooper

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Nominated By Shirley Martinez

My Black Colorado Interview

 Youth on Topic – How are you dealing with COVID-19 – Life in Perspective

KiZhana (Kiki) Cooper – 17 – Born in Heidelberg, Germany

 I traveled around at a young age because both my parents were in the military at the time.  I attend Fountain Fort Carson High School, and have played basketball for about 8 years, Junior High, High school and for a traveling team called Team Fierce.  Prior to a pandemic, I was looking to play basketball.  COVID changed that.  When I took a break from basketball, COVID sort of changed my ideas.  Basketball was my whole life.  My aspirations of playing in College or the WNBA shifted.

When school starts again, I want to start reaching for my new goal in Sports Broadcasting.  It was my way of staying in sports but using my skills in a different manner, so I love telling the story, so it was a Segway into sports broadcasting.  I always watched basketball from an early age, I have family that play basketball professionally.  It was really a men’s sport that women started coming up through the ranks.  This is something that I looked up too.  It is inspiring for me because we too can understand and sports, women see sports in a different manner.

Women sports vs men’s sports their athleticism is so different.  They play differently with different rules.  Women’s sports are more aggressive than men’s sports, my opinion.  I know that girls can get feistier easily.  I feel that girls are more aggressive.  I went to a boys’ varsity game and I saw the boys team play, it was smooth and no drama or nothing too severe.  Arguments but no altercation into fighting.  In the girl’s game the same evening if there was a confrontation, the expression of feelings was more heighten and lead to a more physical interaction even an altercation.

My goal is to do broadcast for all sports, men, and women.  I do not have a specific area to go too.  It is good to see all the different rules and get different experiences each time.

A lot of people say that I am an energetic person and I have a good heart, give of myself totally.  I put others before myself and like to have everyone around me in a comfortable and safe environment.  I make them feel at home.  I have a bright personality and goals for my future.  I do need more confidence and to believe in myself more.

My proudest moment was making the honor roll in 8th grade.  I have always struggled in school, my learning is not that great, but I have overcome a lot of that.  I kind of got some sense talked into me, that school is important, and it is important to life.  Maintain good grades, work hard to succeed. Making the AB Honor roll was that big accomplishment.  I knew then what I needed to shoot for in school, so that I can accomplish my goals.

 What has been your experience during the pandemic (i.e., your school year and beyond)?

A lot of things that I was looking forward to being was canceled.  My learning experience was so different, I realized I learn differently in person versus online.  I am more a visual and hands-on type of learning.  On the screen is not happening for me and the teacher talking I cannot focus.  There are less distractions when I am in front of the teacher.

The pandemic changed our plans, our family was supposed to go on a trip to Puerto Rico for my cousin’s party and it would be the first time in a while that I would have gone out of the country.  I was looking forward to the trip.  It would have been nice to go to an area that I have heard about from family but never been too.

Maybe I would have stayed in basketball if we had continued to play, but our club team, was unable to travel for tournaments, Texas, Kansas, and Nevada, this would have been my last year as a senior to play and show my skills.  And everyone on my team is from a different school.  This would have been for many of us our last year playing together.  I miss meeting with them, we are all on different time schedules.  A lot of us are looking for jobs so we have been busy with stuff and not able to connect.

I received many officers for college and was fortunate enough to be accepted in the one I really wanted to attend, Fort Collins.  I have decided to wait the two years to complete the core classes at Pikes Peak Community College, then transfer to CSU in Fort Collins.   My brother has graduated from CSU Fort Collins.  It is an environment I am comfortable with.  Even if COVID was not part of the equation now I could do a lot.  My brother suggested it to me.  Save myself and my parents tuition for my first two years.

I plan on getting a job and living a different life than I had planned.  The one thing I learned is that basketball prevented me from doing different things in life…not that it was a waste of my time but that COVID had me think differently about where my future would be going.  I am also working on getting my driver’s license.

Do you believe there is a duty of care for youth of today in their communities?

I know during this time; a lot of kids are taking COVID as an event to not be in school and go out with their friends and if they wear a mask, they are okay.  They can be more responsible with what they are doing, like going to pick up trash, volunteer somewhere, being more cautious of the area you are in.  Instead of taking COVID as an advantage but to help others that need help and be more with your family.

 Is there advice or a tip or habit that you think that young people can inculcate in daily life to be able to live and think better?

Do not be selfish.  It is okay to worry about yourself and focus on what you want to do.  But you need to be aware there are others around you that are in more dire consequences than you are.  Volunteer and be there for someone that is in need.  Sometimes it is just to talk.

 What do you think is one piece of advice that you think adults need to hear, to help them connect with the younger generation better?

Have discipline but have patience.  As teenagers, we are going to be on our own and make mistakes.  We need our parents to trust us with situations because we need to learn.   Listening…parents are living through their kids and not listening to what their kids wants.  We feel that we must do certain things because our parents say it is best for us. But really it is best for them.  Patience is the key.  In the future you may not be around, and we need to solve our own problems, find a way to figure it out.

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