Kendall Deighan will never throw a touchdown pass at the Coliseum, make a game-winning jump shot at the Galen Center or run a record-breaking mile on Cromwell Field, but the incoming freshman plans to make her own mark on the USC athletics program over the next four years.
Deighan is a competitive halfpipe and slopestyle skier who dreams of qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“When I say I’m going to USC, everyone tells me that I can’t ski in Southern California, but I tell them I can,” said Deighan, who grew up in Aspen, Colo. “The school wants me to succeed as a student, and yet they are very open to letting me take care of my competitive schedule outside of campus. It will work out just fine.”
Deighan is well aware that the prestige and tradition that comes with wearing a USC uniform stems largely from more traditional programs, such as football, tennis, swimming, and track and field.
“It would be wonderful if more Winter Olympic hopefuls came to USC,” said Deighan, who earlier this year was ranked as the fifth-best halfpipe skier in the United States and plans to complete on the U.S. Revolution Tour this winter. “Obviously, this school has a rich athletic tradition, but I hope maybe I can change the dynamic a little bit here. The first step to achieving that is spreading awareness about sports like skiing.”
Though the incoming freshman’s mind will be on the slopes during her time at USC, there is more to Deighan than being a competitive athlete. In 2007, she tore both her ACL and meniscus during a halfpipe race. Doctors told her repeatedly that she would never ski again, and while she ultimately proved them wrong, her 11 months of rehab away from the sport opened her eyes.
“It’s never fun not being able to compete, but I learned a lot about myself during that time,” said Deighan, who was accepted into the USC Marshall School of Business. “It was a great opportunity for me to give back, and I did so by serving as the head of my high school’s fundraising oversight committee. Because of that experience and raising money for local charities, it piqued my curiosity going into my time at USC. I will definitely be joining multiple philanthropic clubs on campus.”
In addition, Deighan wants to immerse herself in the USC’s school spirit, whether it’s rushing a sorority or attending home football games.
“I come from Vail Mountain High School, where my graduating class was only 24 students,” Deighan said. “I can’t wait to be a part of this university.”
While her ultimate goal is to wear red, white and blue, she said deep down she’ll be most proud to represent a different medley of colors: cardinal and gold.
“I am a part of this community now, whether it’s in the classroom or with my skiing career,” Deighan said. “It’s not just me now that I am representing. I am representing an entire university. It may not be an NCAA sport. It may not be a whole team of cardinal and gold out there. But every time I compete, I will be doing so as a proud Trojan.”