Knutson experiences an unforgettable dayA typical weekday for Kallyn Knutson lasts about 16 hours. She rises well before the sun and returns home long after it sets.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
A typical weekday for Kallyn Knutson lasts about 16 hours. She rises well before the sun and returns home long after it sets.
On Saturday, nothing changed. Well, at least not for the busy Knutson.
The Esko sophomore traveled nearly 400 miles across the state, first racing in the Class A girls state cross country meet in the afternoon at St. Olaf College then, that same night, playing in the Section 7AA championship volleyball match at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“It was long and tiring,” said the 16-year-old Knutson, “but it was a good day.”
Knutson started the day by placing 64th at the state cross country meet, while she watched her teammate, sophomore Marisa Shady, win the crown. Knutson then played her back-row defensive role to help her Eskomos advance to the state volleyball tournament for the first time since 2004.
Although Knutson was busy, it was nothing new. She’s done it all fall.
The four-sport athlete competes in both cross country and volleyball every year. She gets up, goes to cross country practice at 6 a.m., attends school, heads to volleyball after class and finally returns home in the evening with dinner waiting on the table around 6 p.m. After eating, it’s time for homework and then off to bed. Then she starts it all over again.
“5:47 a.m. is when my alarm goes off and I’m usually gone all day, but I’m young,” Knutson said, laughing. “It gets long sometime and there are days where I want to sleep in, but that’s OK.”
In the winter Knutson laces up her sneakers for basketball and when spring rolls around, she puts on her spikes for track and field. That sports lifestyle has been part of her family for years.
Older sister Kaycee, 20, had the same routine as Kallyn, playing the same four sports, while their oldest sister, Kylee, 23, played volleyball and ran track. Their mother, Kari, was a cheerleader, while their father, Steve, referees high school basketball.
“Sports are a big deal in our family,” said Kari Knutson, adding that her youngest daughter Kallyn enjoys waterskiing, rollerblading and spending time at their cabin in the summertime along with her year-round volleyball duties. “That’s what Kallyn knows.”
“I remember watching long days of my sisters playing volleyball and basketball,” added Kallyn. “I guess it just kind of grew on me.”
She also babysits in her free time.
“If she’s not playing sports, she’s probably at the neighbors babysitting,” Kari said with a chuckle. “She does a lot of fun things and likes to be active. We don’t see much of her.”
While balancing sports and school to a level beyond most high school students, Knutson has most impressively carried a 4.0 GPA for years, while she is also an active member of the Esko student council, peer helpers and plays percussion in the pep band – when she can make it, of course.
Her coaches this year have taken notice of her non-stop work ethic.
“She was there every day, she never missed,” said Esko cross country coach Jerry Zimny of Kallyn’s attendance at early-morning practice. “She budgets her time and doesn’t waste it.”
“When you get up in the morning to go run so you can be at volleyball after school, that tells you what kind of work ethic she has,” said Esko volleyball coach Desiree DeLeon. “She never complains, always remains positive and is very smart. She’s just a fun girl and exactly what you want a kid to be. We enjoy having her.”
And her parents enjoyed Saturday’s long trip along with their superstar.
“We left at 6:30,” recalled Kari, who along with Steve, took Kallyn back to Duluth after the race to catch the bus for the volleyball team that night. “I was exhausted. It was fun though, really fun.”
“I tried to take a quick nap on the way home, but I was too excited for volleyball,” said Kallyn. “I think maybe I got a half-hour of sleep in. I just couldn’t sleep.”
Turned out, the sparkplug back-row player had energy to spare as she helped her Eskomos realize their combined dream of going to state. Knutson’s been to seven combined cross country and track state meets, but this week’s trip for volleyball will be her first.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Kallyn said. “It was awesome. It was so cool and was so memorable. And I’m so excited for state!”