Freshman phenom: How one student athlete is taking high school athletics by storm


Topeka High’s Nija Canady is already considered one of the best athletes in the state, and she’s only a freshman.

Whether it’s on the softball field or on the basketball court, Canady dominates.

But, it’s her composed and humble demeanor that’s just as impressive as her athletic abilities.

Canady was a driving force for the Lady Trojans on the basketball court this past season, helping propel them to their first state championship appearance in 37 years.

After earning All-City, All-Class 6A and ALL-USA Kansas honors in basketball, she’s carrying her dominance over to softball.

The only thing that’s wowed people more than her dominating performances is the fact that she’s only a freshman.

“Right away, she just never seemed like a freshman,” said Girl’s Varsity Basketball Coach Hannah Alexander. “I mean, I had to remind myself that she was a freshman throughout the season because she just didn’t make many mistakes. The way her presence on the floor is, I mean, she’s a leader naturally out there.”

Alexander said Canady also gets it done in the classroom, maintaining over a 4.0 G.P.A.

While she may make it look easy, playing an elite level at such a young age doesn’t come without hard work and support from her teammates.

“I try to practice a lot,” said Canady. “I think it’s my team, both teams, softball and basketball, we just love each other, and I think that had a major part in it.”

Her coaches said she’s a player that always rises to the occasion, and that she never lets the pressure take her off her game.

“She’s kind of embraced that role,” said Varsity Softball Coach Shane Miles. “She’s a very humble kid, very soft spoken, and here on the softball field, we’ve relied on her a lot. You know, being our four-hole hitter and she’s also pitched a lot of innings for us.”

Aside from her play, what her teammates said they appreciate about her the most is her fun and goofy personality

“She’s a sweet girl on and off the field,” said sophomore catcher Zoe Caryl. “Very smart, great pitcher. Nija’s awesome.”


Canady said one of her main goals is to win a state championship in both basketball and softball before she graduates.

She also hopes to continue playing both sports in college.

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