The rigors of playing Division 1 softball haven’t stopped Mikala King from making a difference in the community.
King, a sophomore human development major who is considering a double major in English, has worked with local middle school students through the national mentoring program College for Every Student. The work helped King become one of two 2011 Binghamton University Forum Scholarship recipients.
“Anytime I get the opportunity to work with kids outside of campus, I will,” she said.
King, 19, is from Binghamton and attended Chenango Valley High School. She was interested in staying close to home and elected to follow her older sisters to Binghamton University.
“I decided that Binghamton University was far and away the best fit for me,” she said. “I love being this close to my family. I love the facilities and I love the Events Center. The softball program was what I was looking for and I liked the idea of the human development major.”
Being a few minutes from home has its advantages, King said.
“My parents can come to every single game,” said. “And I can go home for Sunday dinner and bring my roommates home. When you are at (Binghamton University), you never feel like you are in your backyard.”
King’s work with children began when she was in middle school, as she helped instruct softball clinics for young girls. During high school, she coached a 12-and-under softball team.
“I loved it because I got to work with a really good age of girls – 9, 10 and 11 – girls who hadn’t gotten a lot of coaching. They had the best attitudes. It was really rewarding: It reminded me of why I play softball. I’m there to have fun.”
With College for Every Student, King travels to West Middle School in Binghamton and works with six to seven students in academic and social areas. The experience has been beneficial for someone who hopes to become an elementary school teacher in the Binghamton region.
“It has taught me that I grew up with a lot of opportunities and was very fortunate to live in the community I did with such a supportive family,” she said. “I work with a lot of children who don’t have as deep of a support group. If I can be one person they can count on, that would make me feel good. It’s nice to make a difference in a child’s life.”
King also has taken part in events such as breast cancer walks and helped with cleanups during the September floods.
Community service goes with being a student-athlete, said King, who was the high school softball Class B New York Co-Player of the Year in 2010.
“I feel I have the responsibility to give back because (student-athletes) get so much from this school, whether it’s going on spring-break trips or using the fields and facilities,” she said. “Anything we can do – that’s our responsibility.”
Softball coach Michelle Burrell said King has “great leadership qualities.”
“Mikala is a dedicated student-athlete who works extremely hard both in the classroom and on the field,” Burrell said. “You can expect that Mikala will come to practice everyday focused and determined to get better. She has been instrumental in our team community service projects. Mikala represents the University and our athletic department in a positive way on a daily basis and I know she will continue to do so.”
King’s short-term goals include staying on the Dean’s List, continuing community work, pursuing other mentoring projects and winning the America East softball championship (“or two or three,” she added).
“I’ve got great teachers and with human development I take a lot of interesting classes,” she said. “I love the athletics and academics here. I wouldn’t change a thing about my college decision.”