Editors Note: This continues a weekly series in the Tribune featuring Troy and Troy Christian returning athletes.

Coming off of a successful freshman year at Troy Christian, Kenley Blake is an athlete that holds a lot of high expectations from not only her coaches…but herself.

blake 1Former varsity basketball coach Dick Steineman held her in high praises, and as her sophomore year begins, the two-sport standout now looks to take her game to another level.

Blake played soccer and basketball for the Eagles last year, and hopes to run track this coming season. While she is quickly becoming a force on the court, she knows that hard work is what it will take for her to become the players she wants to become.

“I started playing soccer at age three and I loved it,” Blake said. “I also started to play basketball when I moved to Troy Christian from Michigan. My grandpa Skip Layton loves basketball and my cousins all played for Troy Christian so they encouraged me to try it.”

“I was not sure that I was going to like basketball, but really took to it right away. My family is a big influence on my love for sports.” Blake also credited her mom and her coaches for instilling her love.

As a freshman, Blake had numerous memories that she hopes continues into this season.

“Going into basketball, my two goals were to play varsity and earn a starting position,” she said. “I was blessed to accomplish both. Another big highlight for me happened during a game against Xenia Christian.”

“I was sent in to face guard their best play, who regularly scored 20 points per game, and she only needed 10 points to break 1,000,” she added. “We were pretty much able to shut her down.”

During the off-season, Blake continues to work to improve her games.

blake 2“I work hard to be the best athlete I can be, and I try to do at least one thing every day to improve my game” she said. “I have trained with Zach Vargo year round and he helps me with my speed, agility and strength. It will give me an advantage on the soccer field and basketball court.”

Blake also plays on the Dayton Lady Hoopstars and has played in the elite and college exposure tournaments, and regularly play up in the 17U division.

“Playing this high level of competition has been great preparation for the upcoming season,” Blake said. “I have been lucky to also do soccer training with David Wall and basketball training with Halee Printz and Richard Quisenberry of Relentless Basketball.”

“This summer and during the off-season, I am working on sharpening my ball skills and becoming more consistent with my shot in both soccer and basketball,” she added. “I am naturally athletic, extremely competitive, and a hard worker, and by really fine-tuning my skills I think that I will be more valuable to my teams, and a more complete package.”

With all of that hard work in the off-season, Blake expects it to pay dividends. She knows that this could be a breakout season for her and the teams.

“My goals and expectations for basketball this year are big,” she said. “We have a new coach this season at Troy Christian and some very talented girls. I think the next few years at Troy Christian will be really exciting! I think we will do great things together as a team.”

“I would love to see us win our conference and go far in the tournaments. My personal goals are, first and foremost, to glorify God in all that I do, to be a positive influence and leader on our team, to push my limits and come out of the season a better player, and also to score at least 10 points and get 10 rebounds a game.”

Aside from the athletics, Blake has impacted lives in other avenues as well. She is a person who always tried to help the other person succeed.

“Troy Christian really encourages all of us to be God’s hands and feet, and to use our time to help others,” Blake said. “This past year, I had the privilege to travel to Costa Rica with a group from school to do teen outreach and help with elementary school children. I also spend a lot of time with kids at the Early Childhood Education Center at Troy Christian. I read to the kids, play with them, plan activities, and even clean play equipment.”

“This year I am also planning to help continue the Night of Nets program that my cousin, Meredith Haddad, brought to Troy Christian. Night of Nets raises money to buy bed nets that are then distributed in Africa with the goal of ending malaria.”

Blake’s future plans are to attend college and major in interior design and business.