Friday, March 1, 2013

KCKPS employee thrives on dual career

KCK Public Schools

Her weekdays are spent taking care of students, and serving as a mentor. But on the weekends, KeKe Blackmon turns into a fierce competitor, using her strength and skills to win at all costs. And she recently was chosen as the “best” of the best in the nation.

Blackmon is a school bus driver for the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, and she is a member of the Dallas Diamonds Women’s Professional Football Team.

During the week, she works to ensure that students get to school and back home safely each day. She loves knowing that she is one of the first faces they see in the morning, and the last one they see at the end of their school day.

But every Friday after work, she heads south to spend her weekend training and competing for the Diamonds. She loves the challenge, the camaraderie and the competition it provides.

This dual career is both personally and professionally satisfying to Blackmon.

“Everybody says I love to win, and I like to be the best, and I do,” Blackmon said. “But mostly I just
like competing. I believe that the greatest attribute a person can have is to not let others make them feel that they can’t do something. You can be and do anything you want.”

This is advice that she frequently passes along to her students. Her athleticism and competitive nature earned her a “best of the best” title recently when she was chosen to represent the U.S. as a member of the 2013 U.S. Women’s National Team in football. Her position: defensive tackle. She will travel to Vantaa, Finland this summer to compete in the International Federation of American Football Women’s World Championship. It will be held June 28 through July 6.

Blackmon grew up playing sports. At her high school in Portland, Ore., she played basketball, softball, volleyball and ran track. She went to college at Virginia Commonwealth on a basketball scholarship. After college, she went pro and played for the KC Storm, and then the KC Tribe. And she is proud that the Tribe won a world championship in 2009.

But unfortunately, the team folded this year. That’s when women’s basketball pioneer Lynette Woodard, who is a friend of Blackmon’s, encouraged her to try football.

“I knew nothing about football except what you watch on TV,” Blackmon recalls. “I was an athlete, but I didn’t have that skillset, so I had to work hard.”

Obviously, the hard work paid off. She has been with the Dallas Diamonds for two years now.

So what do her students think about their bus driver being a professional football player? So far, none of them know about her weekend job. But once the word spreads, the students will have just one more reason to look up to her.

“Being positive in my actions, in what I do and say, can be a great influence on them,” she said. “So being a part of that is really amazing.”