WCBK

Cal's Mikayla Lyles makes impact on, off the court

Share This Story

   
 

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP)

(Eds: Updates with details, quotes. With AP Photos.)By JANIE McCAULEYAP Sports Writer

Little did Mikayla Lyles know months ago while planning for a pair of panel discussions held last week on tolerance and inclusion of the LGBT community in athletics that it would become such a timely topic ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

Lyles, a senior guard for No. 23 California, teamed with Stanford's Toni Kokenis to host a session on each of their respective campuses just more than a week before the start of the Sochi Games with Russia's anti-gay laws at the forefront for a world audience.

''Incredibly (timely), definitely we could not have foreseen that one,'' Lyles said Wednesday. ''The way that it all happened to play out, it adds another element to how incredible it turned out to be.''

Lyles figures 300 people attended in all, and she and Kokenis are committed to continuing their efforts in the Bay Area and beyond.

An added bonus for Lyles: She started for the first time in two games against the rival Cardinal, scoring a career-high 16 points in Sunday's 79-64 home loss.

''From beginning to end, the week was probably one the best I've had in my college experience,'' Lyles said.

Lyles has long been an integral part of the Bears, on and off the court.

She will likely continue to be called upon down the stretch, especially considering Cal announced Wednesday that freshman Hind Ben Abdelkader has left the team and returned to Belgium to be closer to family. The Bears (14-7, 6-4 Pac-12) face an important road weekend at Washington and Washington State.

If people ask her, Lyles says she identifies herself as ''a straight ally,'' but she doesn't offer such information as her mission is to play a role in breaking down all stereotypes in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The intent of facilitating discussion isn't necessarily to get others to acknowledge their sexuality but rather have an environment where all are accepted for who they are and are comfortable discussing the issues.

''Mikayla embodies what it means to truly embrace your experience as a student-athlete,'' Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. ''She embodies the understanding that as a student-athlete you have a wonderful opportunity both to take advantage of everything Cal and the university offer and also the platform that you get. She is very committed to using these opportunities not only to better herself but to make an impact in the community around her, and that's really admirable.''

After Lyles did a public service announcement with ''Br(ache the Silence'' - a campaign for those in women's sports seeking acceptance to have a safe place to share their voice - Kokenis reached out to Lyles over Facebook late last summer with the idea. They spent the next five months planning last week's talks.

Given the success of the two panels and the connections and support received, Lyles said she and Kokenis have a ''vision of guiding'' through ''hands-on consulting'' of other students across the nation to make similar efforts on their own campuses. Kokenis, who attended Stanford basketball camp with Lyles when they were younger, is no longer playing for Stanford after a series of concussions forced her to prematurely end her career.

Upon graduating this May with a degree in interdisciplinary studies, Lyles plans to move to the East Coast for a new perspective given she grew up in the San Francisco area.

''Because rivalry is such a sustainable thing throughout the country, everybody has a rival and everybody has a university they are constantly competing with, the way we can infiltrate that throughout the country is by using the student Gay-Straight Alliance groups within the universities themselves,'' Lyles said. ''We were personally reaching out to people and personally asking them to attend. We're trying to tap into as many people as possible to see how we can expand it more and more.''

And, as Lyles pointed out via Twitter on Wednesday:

''My generation, is so ambitious, so many friends trying to change the world, so awesome,'' she wrote.

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


FOX SPORTS Videos

Gruden not concerned about RG3's knee Posted: Jul 31, 2014
New Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believes RG3 is healthy and his knee could be...

Klatt: CFB Playoff is season's top storyline Posted: Jul 30, 2014
FOX Sports 1's Joel Klatt says the new College Football Playoff is the season's ...

Horsin' around with Eric Chavez Posted: Jul 30, 2014
FOX Sports Arizona's 10th Inning got an up-close look at the home/horse property...

WCBK Headlines

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

  • Power Ranking

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Zephyr Florida Gators White DH Fitted Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/21914/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_21000/DS_21914_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Zephyr Florida Gators White DH Fitted Hat
    Zephyr Florida Gators Royal Blue DH Fitted Hat http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/50646/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_50000/DS_50646_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Zephyr Florida Gators Royal Blue DH Fitted Hat
    Ohio State Buckeyes Scrub Top - Gray http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/60808/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_60000/FF_60808_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Scrub Top - Gray
    Nike Texas Longhorns #7 Burnt Orange Replica Football Jersey http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Texas_Longhorns/browse/featuredproduct/62039/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_62000/FF_62039_xl.jpg&w=100 59.95 Nike Texas Longhorns #7 Burnt Orange Replica Football Jersey
    Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet Scrub Top --- http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/67086/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_67000/FF_67086_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Scarlet Scrub Top ---
    Michigan Wolverines Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_Wolverines/browse/featuredproduct/70367/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70367_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Michigan Wolverines Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Florida State Seminoles Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_State_Seminoles/browse/featuredproduct/70625/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70625_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Florida State Seminoles Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Texas Longhorns Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Texas_Longhorns/browse/featuredproduct/70626/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70626_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Texas Longhorns Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Kentucky Wildcats Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kentucky_Wildcats/browse/featuredproduct/70627/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70627_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Kentucky Wildcats Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt
    Ohio State Buckeyes Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Ohio_State_Buckeyes/browse/featuredproduct/70628/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_70000/DS_70628_xl.jpg&w=100 12.95 Ohio State Buckeyes Ash Vertical Arch Logo T-shirt