HomeBlocksFront-TopSMHS Star Named Area’s Athlete of Year 

SMHS Star Named Area’s Athlete of Year 

Kayla Giddings, a four-sport standout this past school year at San Marino High School, was recently selected as the San Gabriel Valley Girls’ Athlete of the Year by the Southern California News Group. The prestigious honor, presented for the recently concluded 2022-23 school year, encompasses a large area stretching from around San Dimas/Glendora in the east to La Cañada Flintridge in the west and south to Whittier/Pico Rivera. 

Giddings received varsity letters in cross-country in the fall, soccer in the winter, and both softball and track in the spring. 

What makes the honor even more impressive is Giddings did it during her sophomore year. 

“When I heard I had won High School Female Athlete of the Year, I was so surprised,” Giddings said. “And then when I heard it was for the San Gabriel Valley, I was shocked. I just kept thinking about how many female athletes there are in the San Gabriel Valley and how big of an honor it was to be able to win it myself. There are so many amazing female athletes who I see excelling in my same sport, many who are committed D1 athletes. Most of those girls do specialize, so it was refreshing to see that [they] recognized and appreciated someone who represents the multi-sport athlete.” 

Photos courtesy Giddings family Kayla Giddings, who recently finished her sophomore year at San Marino High School, was selected as the San Gabriel Valley Girls’ High School Athlete of the Year. She considers cross-country “as both my favorite sport and the sport I’m best at,” she said.

Giddings’ first sport of the school year was quite possibly her best. In cross-country, she set a personal record with an 18:05 time at the Woodbridge Invitational in Irvine. She went on to place fourth in the Rio Hondo League and finished 25 in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 finals, where she was just five seconds shy of qualifying for the state championship meet in Fresno. 

“Cross-country, oddly enough, is probably both my favorite and the sport I am the best at,” Giddings said. “I love cross-country because it is the most competitive and difficult sport I participate in. Both the team and competitive atmosphere is unlike anything else and I truly admire that. The courses are different week to week, the competition greatly varies and finishing a grueling race is both miserable and euphoric at the same time. There is also a bond among opponents, no matter where you finish or who you run for. That is something truly different from the other sports.” 

In the winter sports season, Giddings got off to an outstanding start on the soccer field. As a forward, she scored three goals and had two assists through the first four games of the Titans’ season. But in the fifth game against Mayfield of Pasadena, which is one of the top teams in the West San Gabriel Valley, Giddings suffered a severe ankle injury and was sidelined for nearly two months. She returned for the final couple of Rio Hondo League games but, unfortunately, it was disappointing to have missed the majority of the season. 

However, she managed to recover to pull off a stunning feat: competing in softball and track simultaneously in the spring. In softball, she batted .400 as the starting shortstop and also stole 10 bases. (It should be noted that a year earlier she had a remarkable freshman season, setting an SMHS single-season record with 26 stolen bases en route to all-league second-team honors.) However, as a sophomore she was concentrating heavily on track and field, which forced her to miss six softball games. In track, she excelled in the 800 meters, where she had eight top-five finishes, placed second in the Rio Hondo League finals and seventh in the CIF-SS finals. Her personal-best time of 2:22.64 at league finals also marked the fifth-fastest in SMHS history. 

Giddings also was a member of the Titans’ 4×400 relay team which finished second in league, and also the 4×100 relay team, which set a school record. Both relay teams finished 10th in the CIF-SS prelims, narrowly missing advancing to the CIF finals, which takes the top nine schools. 

Kayla Gidding’s parents, Dan and Cathy Giddings, have been proponents of their daughter playing multiple sports. They were both multi-sport athletes who earned postseason honors. Dan Giddings graduated from SMHS in 1990 and was an all-league selection in three sports: football, basketball and baseball. He was then an all-conference pitcher for the Claremont McKenna College baseball team. Meanwhile, Cathy Giddings was the tennis team’s captain and was a top doubles player at perennial athletic powerhouse Mater Dei High in Santa Ana. She also played second base for the Monarchs’ softball team. 

“Everyone likes to joke that Kayla got her mom’s genes, especially when it comes to her speed,” Dan Giddings said. “Bringing [Kayla] up, we wanted her to play every sport. Team sports have really brought out her competitiveness and her toughness; she has to fight through tough moments.” 

Cathy Giddings added: “Playing multiple sports is helpful. Playing one sport you can burn out. The balance of having social life, work, ASB … she doesn’t burn out.” 

Kayla Giddings certainly seems to agree. 

“Although I do enjoy being identified and recognized as an athlete, it does not define me,” she said. “At San Marino High, academics are demanding and I have to find time to handle AP and honors classes. One interesting side effect of the pandemic was that my social circle really grew so I enjoy hanging out with friends I have made through sports at all the area high schools. I also have two siblings who are athletes so I spend time cheering them on.  

“My parents have set a high standard for success, on and off the field,” she added. “My dad coached me in all my team sports and would spend hours working with me. They put me in countless sports growing up and forced me to stick with the ones I was good at, even if I disliked them. Now I am grateful for this as the hard work and exposure to a variety of sports has paid off.” 

Kayla Giddings also excels academically; she has earned Titan Elite Scholar Athlete status, which is for varsity athletes who maintain a 4.0 grade-point average in the semester they play sports. She is also the ASB athletics commissioner for the upcoming 2023-24 school year. 

As for her athletic aspirations beyond high school? 

“I am really looking forward to going on college visits with the goal of running track and cross-country,” she said. 


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