Female athletes from Iowa are special in many ways; here at the IGHSAU we work to recognize the “Iowa Girl” and share our enthusiasm for the good that she represents. There is something unique in every Iowa Girl, whether that be leadership, dedication or compassion. Each one has a story worth sharing. 

Welcome to the Iowa Girl Project. Join fellow Iowa Girl Mia Laube as she shares the stories of Iowa Girls who are taking the skills they learned through their education and athletic career above and beyond. These women are making a positive impact on their communities, big and small. They inspire the next generation to compete in sports and conquer the challenges ahead. 

Proud to be an Iowa Girl!



Kaylin Kinney is not the average athlete; she is not the average person. One day at a time, she is taking the challenges that throw her for a curve and knocking them out of the park.

Kaylin Kinney, senior at Kennedy High School, is a tremendous softball player. But that isn’t the reason she stands out.

Kinney was the 2018-2019 Iowa softball Gatorade Player of the Year. She has multiple State appearances under her belt. She has been selected First Team All-State. She has racked up home runs and strikeouts alike. She has plans to play Division I softball at Nebraska next year.

However, none of that has come easily for her. When she was only ten years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

“I honestly couldn’t tell you what my life was like before I was diagnosed,” Kinney said.

As a young athlete, she also battled several knee injuries that forced her to quit basketball, another one of her passions. No setback has been able to take Kinney down.

“I’m determined,” she said. “I have a goal in mind, and I’m not going to let anything get in the way of that.”

Simply put, she wants to be known for “being a good person.”

“I want to be known as being the most supportive and motivational person I can be,” Kinney said.

This past summer, she got the opportunity to play in a celebrity softball game at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Playing in the game was a bonus; Kinney said the most important part was when a little girl reached out to her, wanting to meet her role model.

She has a message for all the little girls out there who are growing up with the same challenges: “You can still do whatever you want with this disease. You don’t have to let it hold you back.”

Those are not empty words.

Kinney made the Cedar Rapids Blue Devils 10U team as a seven-year-old, but she wasn’t the best yet. When she first started, she described herself as “not good enough to pitch.”

“I know I may not be perfect, but I’ll strive for perfection knowing I’ll never get there,” she said.

She went on to play for the Eastern Iowa Barracudas and Nebraska Gold, and before high school, she didn’t know she was “good enough to play at a collegiate level.”

She caught the eye of Nebraska softball in eighth grade and verbally committed to play there in February 2017.

Kinney demonstrates that Iowa Girls don’t find a way around barriers; they break right through them.

For now, Kinney and Kennedy softball have unfinished business at the State tournament. 

Then, in less than a year, she will move on to the next level of softball with the same humble and determined attitude. 

“My goal is to make a difference, not only on the softball field, but as a person,” Kinney said.

She may not be able to eat whatever she wants; she may not be able to take a carefree approach to her health.

But Kaylin Kinney can attack any challenge with a positive attitude, and, without question, she can strike you out.


Written by Mia Laube. Mia is a freelance writer for the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. She is a graduate of Marion High School and currently attends the University of St. Thomas where she studies journalism and communications. As a former Iowa high school student-athlete, Mia is excited to share the stories of the "Iowa Girl" through the Iowa Girl Project.