Fiercely beautiful

Maize grad shines on and off soccer field

Written by Amy Palser

Ashlyn Lakin never realized she was a role model until a group of little girls started yelling her name at a Maize High School soccer game.

The girls were just a few of the thousands — if not millions — wowed this spring by Ashlyn’s gymnastic ability on the soccer field after a viral video showed her launch the soccer ball front-handspring style across the field, where a teammate headed it into the net for a goal. The video made local and national television and online news, and a group of young gymnasts were inspired enough to show up to Ashlyn’s game.

“During halftime I watched them flip around. They’re like, ‘Ashlyn Lakin! Ashlyn Lakin!” the recent Maize High grad said with a laugh.

While learning she had a group of young fans was a surprise to Ashlyn, it wasn’t a surprise for people who know her. Aside from being an amazing athlete, she’s kind, smart, beautiful, strong — and quirky. She had a pet python named Nellie, and raises baby ducks at the lake near her home.

“I think she kind of exemplifies beauty and power together,” said her dad, Dr. Greg Lakin. “Some women worry about getting too strong. She sends the message that you can be strong and pretty and smart at the same time.”

A straight-A student and National Honor Society member, Ashlyn was named conference MVP this year by the league coaches.

“For a defensive player to win that award is pretty unbelievable because usually it’s an offensive player getting that recognition,” said Maize soccer coach Jay Holmes. “She’s a kid every coach would love to have. I’m really going to miss her next year.”

Ashlyn signed on to play soccer at Emporia State, where she plans to study medicine. Recently, Ashlyn added modeling to her list of skills: She appears in the pages of SPLURGE! this month.

“It was actually really fun to have someone do your hair and makeup,” she said.

But for all of her successes, Ashlyn remains the humble girl next door who values kindness and hard work.

“She was team captain for us this year and did an outstanding job of leading by example,” Holmes said. “She’s the type of kid who works hard on the field and in the classroom. She’s respected by her teammates.”

And respected by her classmates, too. This year she won prom queen, but she didn’t campaign or put up banners to champion her cause, as is the tradition. “Ashlyn is so modest she didn’t do any of that,” her dad recalled.

And still, she won.

“It’s because she’s just nice to everybody — such a really good person with a good heart,” Greg said.

Ashlyn said she was a fifth-grader when mom Terri Lakin showed her a video of a soccer player’s flip kick and said, “I think you could do that.” With a background in gymnastics, Ashlyn immediately went to the front yard and tried it. Besides looking cool, the flip throw serves a special purpose.

“A normal throw-in goes about 10 yards, but with the flip, I can get it 50 yards,” she said.

When Holmes learned of her flip throw skill, he started working it into games, and Ashlyn said she would watch for his nod before pulling out the trick — which, she adds, is a legal soccer move, despite many of the online comments that follow the video.

As for the young fans from last season, Ashlyn has a message for them: “Whatever you do, do it 100 percent,” she said. “It’s OK to try different things, but go in 100 percent.”

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