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The Activities Matter - Student Spotlight Blog

February Student Spotlight

Nico Benavidez

Nico Benavidez is a senior at Kennewick High School. A dedicated leader on and off the court, Benavidez is one of the WIAA’s Student Spotlights for the month of February.

Benavidez earned WIAA Athlete of the Week honors after leading the Lions to a 55-52 win over Kamiakin to claim the Mid-Columbia Conference 3A District Title. He averaged 20.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in three games.

“He had a huge game for us last week in the district championships,” said Kennewick Head Coach Bradyn Leyde. “He led the team both offensively and defensively.”

The District title was even sweeter for Benavidez, who attended Kamiakin his first two years of high school, where he was a JV-Varsity swing player as a sophomore.

“Going back there and taking it from them, cutting down the net in their house, that felt really good for me,” Benavidez said.

Benavidez has had no lack of motivation when it comes to his basketball career. He tried out for the team in eighth grade and didn’t make it, giving him the desire to get better and pushing him to improve. He says basketball has helped him to clear his mind and is a big stress relief for him. Basketball also played a big role in helping him to feel welcome at his new school when he transferred.

“I didn’t really fit into Kamiakin,” Benavidez said. “The people [at Kennewick] are so welcoming. Basketball helped me a lot. That was a conversation starter with a lot of the people I became friends with.”

Finishing off his senior year of basketball, Benavidez has become a leader, serving as one of the Lion’s team captains, and counts his teammates as family.

“You will always have that bond, you always have that friendship,” he says.
Benavidez is planning to continue his basketball career next year at either Walla Walla Community College or Blue Mountain Community College. He is interested in pursuing a degree in technical engineering.

He will continue to follow Kennewick basketball though, with two younger brothers ready to attend the school and play basketball next year and the year after. Benavidez spends many of his afterschool hours caring for his younger siblings, as well as hooping it up with them.

“Hopefully they’re better than me,” he said with a laugh.

Kacey Halbert

Kacey Halbert is a junior at Pomeroy High School. A standout three-sport athlete, and soon to be international competitor, Halbert is one of the WIAA’s Activities Matter Student Spotlights for the month of February.

Pomeroy basketball’s “go-to girl”, as described by Head Coach Nettie Severs, Halbert earned WIAA Athlete of the Week honors after racking up 53 points, 25 rebounds, 12 assists and 10 steals in three games.

“Kacey always works hard,” said Coach Severs. “She is definitely a game day player. She finds ways to help our team win, even if she’s not having the best scoring day.”

A member of the Pirates’ varsity squad since her freshman year, Halbert has earned Southeast 1B All-League First Team honors each of the past three years. A well-rounded athlete, Halbert has also been on the varsity team since her freshman year in volleyball and since eighth grade for softball (due to small participation numbers). Halbert played a key role in Pomeroy’s 2014-15 State Championship in volleyball saving the ball from going out of bounds to get the game-winning point.

“The hardest question is which sport is your favorite,” said Halbert. “I like all three of my sports.”

Outside of school, Halbert plays for a travel softball team, a club volleyball team and will be heading to Europe to play for Team USA in the United World Games. Halbert doesn’t see her busy schedule as commitments, but more as opportunities.

“It’s what I’ve grown up doing,” she said. “It’s what I’ve done my whole life. It [sports] gets you out of your comfort zone. I enjoy meeting new friends and the different levels of competitiveness playing against different people than I would during the summer or the school year.”

In addition to athletics, Halbert plays the clarinet in the school band, is a member of the National Honor Society, part of Pep Club. With a 3.7 GPA, she enjoys the sciences and hopes to study zoology, forensic science or physical therapy in college.  

Both Coach Severs and Halbert agree on the importance of activities in teaching life lessons.

“Activities are an opportunity for kids to learn life lessons that they wouldn’t get in any other realm,” said Coach Severs.

“There will always be people that you won’t get along, with but you have to find a way to make it work,” Halbert said, explaining the biggest lessons sports have taught her so far. “You’ll have your differences, but you have to work around that to get to your common goal.”



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February 2016

2/29/2016 February Student Spotlight

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