Four years ago, Mikayla Pivec was a talented young freshman trying to find her way on the Lynnwood girls basketball team. She was able to do that and then some. Pivec graduated this past week as the Royals’ all-time leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals. She helped Lynnwood win its first girls basketball state championship in school history as a junior and helped the girls track team win its second state championship in school history as a senior, while also winning her first individual state title in the javelin.
She won the Washington Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year as a junior and senior and last week received the MaxPreps Female Athlete of the Year. The final high school award Pivec can add to her portfolio is The Herald’s Kristi Bartz Memorial Class of 2016 Girls Athlete of the Year. Herald Writer Aaron Lommers sat down with Pivec this past week to talk about some of the top moments of her high school career, her memory of Kristi Bartz, and if she will someday play in the WNBA:
Now that it’s all over, what was the top moment of your high school career?
“Definitely the state championship for basketball my junior year. The state championship for track this year was cool, but last year with basketball I think more of the community comes out to support us and a lot of the school comes out to watch our games as well. To do that for them, it was cool.”
Did you have any free time, like at all?
“Yeah, I had lots of free time to do homework and hang out with friends. You make time for the things you want to do, so if you want to do something then you can make time to do it. Don’t make excuses for, ‘oh I have this, or I have that to do.’”
Knowing that you had a 4.0 GPA, how did you balance all the athletics and still maintain that level of academic performance?
“I always tried to do as much as I could in class and get as much work done as I could in class. If I didn’t finish something in class, I would try to do it first thing when I got home and try not to procrastinate and wait until the last minute because that tends to hurt your grades in the end.”
Do you remember anything from your first day — or first year — of high school?
“The first day, not so much. I’m assuming I rode the bus and had a fun day. The first year, I remember the sports seasons and the teammates that I had. Each year a new set of teammates graduates, so I remember those friends that I made and how our teams did in those sports seasons.”
How different is it now being one day from graduating and being the big senior on campus, to when you were a freshman entering high school?
“It’s a big difference. As a freshman, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t know what my high school athletic career or academic career would include. To be in this spot, knowing which college I’m going to and knowing a little bit more about my future because freshman year I didn’t know what I wanted to be or if I wanted to play sports in college, so it’s been a fun four years.”
What exactly was it that drew you to Oregon State?
“I felt really comfortable with the coaching staff and the players there. I wanted to be around a big support system for me and people that I enjoy being around. I felt their program was going in the right direction. They came off a Final Four this year. I felt that even though they lost two big seniors last year that they were going in the right direction.”
Who was particularly helpful to you in your four years at Lynnwood?
“There are a lot of people that have really helped me, but if I had to pinpoint two coaches that really shaped me, I would say Duane Lewis and Stephanie (Tastad), my track and cross country coaches here. They’ve really supported me and driven me to do my best and work hard. They’ve taught me not only to work hard on the field, but to treat others respectfully off the field as well. What you do in sports isn’t the only important thing in life. How you treat others is really important as well and being a good person.”
How did it feel to play such a prominent role in the Lynnwood girls basketball turnaround?
“The basketball turnaround really helped regenerate some of the other sports programs as well. It gave other programs that hadn’t seen as much success some hope and I hope that continues for the Royals’ future for a long time to come.”
What is your favorite non-basketball athletic memory?
“Probably winning the (3A) track state championship with my sister and coach Lewis and all of the people that I care about, this year.”
The Herald renamed the girls award this year in honor of the late Kristi Bartz. What are your thoughts on not just winning the award, but being the first to receive it with Kristi’s name as part of the award?
“It means a lot. I know there are a lot of other great athletes in the area. Kristi Bartz, I’ve run against her in the past. … I know she was a great athlete all-around and I think she’s a great example of what you strive to be as an all-around athlete. She excelled in soccer and she had multiple school records in a variety of track events — the high jump, the 800 and the 1,600. Usually you don’t see a high jumper doing the 800 and 1,600. She was a very good athlete and I’m very honored to receive this award.”
What does it say about the Class of 2016 athletes in Snohomish County that two athletes — yourself with the MaxPreps Female Athlete of the Year and (boys winner) Jacob Eason with the Gatorade National Football Player of the Year — received national recognition for their athletic accomplishments?
“It’s awesome to see Washington athletes be recognized in that type of caliber of award. Usually you see Texas or California athletes being recognized as the nation’s best and you want to go there to see the nation’s best athletes, but it shows that Washington is competing and is producing some talented athletes as well.”
What advice would you give a young student-athlete who looks up to you and wants to follow in your footsteps?
“I’d say try to participate and compete in as many sports as possible. I think you’ll make big friend groups that way and you’ll get more opportunities to improve in whatever sports you choose. If you just focus on one sport, during the offseason you probably won’t put as much work in as if you played a different sport. You can work on conditioning or strength training during that season. As long as you continue to love doing sports, try as many as you can and just continue to work hard.”
Are we going to see you in the WNBA one day?
“That’s the goal. I’d love to play as long as possible, either in the WNBA or overseas. I’m going to try to improve myself every day to make that goal happen.”