Olympian Karlos Kirby Visits Phenix

ph-kirby5Valley alum and two-time Olympic bobsledder Karlos Kirby visited Phenix Elementary during its Wellness Wednesday activities Feb. 12.

You could see the surprise on the face of students as Kirby, wearing his Olympic hat and jacket, informed them that he grew up in West Des Moines and went to school not far away from Phenix. Excitement grew as he spoke about his days at playing sports at Rex Mathes and Valley High School.

Kirby gave many examples to students about not giving up and working hard to accomplish their goals. Kirby worked hard at football to become one of the first sophomore to earn a spot on the varsity football team at Valley. People told him he wasn’t big enough, strong enough or fast enough to play in college, but he was able to earn a scholarship on the New Mexico squad.

After graduating college, in his quest to become an NFL player, he heard about the sport of bobsledding.

“I wanted to bobsled really bad,” he told the students. “That’s the key. You can do just about anything. But you gotta enjoy it and you gotta really want to do it.”

Even his mom told him no, but he persevered and she finally agreed to purchase a bus ticket for him to Lake Placid, N.Y. He went to tryouts and after the first day of training was over, the coach told him he could go home. Kirby didn’t want to give up so soon.

ph-kirby3“I might not make the team, but I’m not going to quit until I at least try,” he said. “I ended up finishing third the next day. They invited me back to compete against the best they had in the United States. I actually won.”

“I want you to realize that just because you may not succeed in the beginning, doesn’t mean that you may not get where you want to be.”

He also shared some Olympic secrets with the students, explaining how the Olympic flag has five rings to represent the five continents that Olympic athletes come from. Also, the colors of the rings were selected because they are all represented in the colors of flags around the world.

The students’ favorite secret was the reason why the bobsledders don’t take of their helmets in front of the cameras after a race. Ask a Phenix student what he told them and then you will have to watch the games and see if this is true!