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A Bolt From The Blue : An Injury, Like a Flash of Lightning, Comes Quickly and Without Warning. Recovery, Though, Isn't Nearly as Fast

May 30, 1995|MARTIN HENDERSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"I'm very competitive and hate to lose with a passion because it doesn't make me feel good," said Kaylee, who has a 3.6 grade-point average. "It's a driving force. I feel good about myself after I've worked out, where I feel like I've done something productive that day."

El Modena had never won a league soccer title until Whitfield arrived and has now won two in a row. They have won 57 games the last three years. She was an all-league player each year. This past season, Whitfield was a first-team Southern Section Division II and Times all-county player. She was selected the school's 1994 athlete of the year by the Orange Rotary Club.

Certainly, Kaylee has been the most athletically decorated of the Shock Waves.

But footwork and instincts aren't all that set Whitfield apart from other players. Those who know her talk about her spirit, how she is so encouraging and empathetic and sensitive to others.

"I try to listen to everyone and not talk about myself a lot," Whitfield said. "I'm really interested in what people have to say."

She said she doesn't like the attention that comes with retelling her brush with lightning. Her story isn't common knowledge, and she doesn't mind it that way--she's already bothered by those who occasionally tease her by making a buzzing sound when she walks past.

"I think it's dumb," she said.

But at least she can walk past those insensitive souls on her own.

"One time we had a girl on the club team break a leg and everyone was upset--Jeff was the club coach at the time and was really upset," Kya Whitfield said. "So the girl won't be able to play for a year. So what? So what if she can't play soccer? At least this girl will be able to walk.

"You take a look at life totally differently. Whenever Jeff goes on a hunting trip, or we're going to take an airplane flight or one of the kids is late coming home, I have to really fight the thought that something really bad happened. That all stems from that day--I know how fast it can go. Everything is fine one minute and can be gone the next."

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