by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Not all team captains are star players. One such athlete valued for leadership and spirit as much as performance was Kayla Kranitz, a tri-captain of the Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman swim team this fall.
Kranitz, the lone Rogers student chosen as a captain, closed her career scoring points for the Royals in two events at Section 2A on Nov. 9, with fifth place in both medley relay and 400 freestyle relay.
A four-year letterwinner, she swam with the Elks from seventh grade on, while making the “A” honor roll each semester.
“I will always remember how the Rogers group grew from less than a relay team to triple in size and became a powerhouse,” said Kranitz, who can be excused for slightly exaggerating the 13-member Royal group’s record, placing fifth at section with two state qualifiers.
Kranitz said one of her main duties as captain was “help keep our team unified as one, despite the break-off for true-team and finals,” meaning the split for section and state as Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman contingents go separate ways but stay together in spirit.
“I enjoy getting to know every single person on the team, the team bonding,” said Kranitz. With her parents and sister Marisa (an eighth-grader and a teammate) she hosted the team for a kick-off bonfire, movie nights and her birthday. She was also a leader in organizing carpooling.
Kranitz said her senior year highlight was getting to know the many young rookie swimmers and watching them drop “lots of time” at the JV conference meet.
Along with swimming, she likes ice fishing, boating, fishing, waterskiing and snorkeling.
Describing herself as “a proud Ojibwe Indian” with Red Lake Reservation roots, she regards the American Indian Education Program, headed by Debra Blair, as another activity close to her heart. Over 200 kids from District 728 learn about history, languages and culture of the Ojibwe and Dakota. Tours to colleges and Fort Snelling help her “learn more about the generations before me.” She won a quiz bowl to earn a letter in this program.
Kranitz plans to attend UM-Morris with an academic scholarship, and join the swim team there. She’s looking at forensic science and pre-med as possible majors.