Spring bloomed special memories for McKenzie Mills
Third in a six-part series on 2020 Athletic Hall of Fame Inductees
While the Corona Virus brought turmoil and upheaval in the spring of 2020, McKenzie (Adams) Mills’ memories of this year will be pleasant and celebratory.
The Mills’ – McKenzie and husband Zach – lives changed forever as their first child, Keylo Mabri, was born on May 9.
“It’s everything that I wanted it to be,” McKenzie said of being a new mother. “She’s the easiest baby. I got super lucky there. I love it.”
Around that same time, she received a phone call from her former Broken Arrow softball coach, Randall King.
“I love when Coach King calls,” Mills broke from that thought and reflected on the purpose of the call.
“I think my jaw about hit the floor,” as she explained her reaction when she learned she was selected for induction into the Broken Arrow Athletic Hall of Fame. “You never think about the opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame until you get the call.
“In softball and track, especially in the roles that I played, it’s harder to stick out sometimes. I wasn’t a huge home run hitter. When I got the call. I was ecstatic and honored. I was super excited. Coach King was the best coach. Hearing it from him was such an honor.”
Mills is the second member of the family to get such a call. Zach, a 2012 BA graduate, was inducted in 2018.
“My husband, being in the hall of fame, has kind of held that one over my head,” she said with a good-natured laugh. “So, it’s kind of fun now letting him know that ‘ha, ha I’m right there with you.’”
Like Zach, McKenzie was a two-sport athlete. She excelled at softball, earning all-state honors and going on to play outfield at Wichita State University. Mills was a member of the BA Girls Track Team state-placing 800-meter relay team in 2014, her senior year.
“I knew I wanted to play college softball, so I knew I had to show up,” she said. “With track, there wasn’t the pressure of I had to be good at it. I knew I wouldn’t go to college for track, even though I loved it. It also helped translate into softball. Getting my sprints down improved my home to first time and improved my outfield speed. It wasn’t just an offseason thing though, because I loved it.”
For the focused McKenzie Mills there was never an “off season thing.”
Athletically, she was the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award representative as a freshman. At the college-level, she was first team all-conference in 2017 and finished her career with a .342 batting average and .378 on base percentage.
Academically, the self-proclaimed overachiever, graduated high school with a GPA above 4.0. Collegiately, she earned her accounting degree from WSU in three years. She was academic all-conference three years in softball.
“My parents never had to get on me about grades or anything like that,” Mills said. “I know, the more I learn the more I can bring something to the table at work. It was the same with softball. The more I could bring to the field, the more I could be a leader. I think it’s huge to have knowledge. Just to add value in whatever you are doing.”
Along with being a wife and mother, Mills has found value in her career as an Investment Performance Analyst with Calvanal Hill Investment.
“I like the challenge,” Mills said. “I knew there were examinations that I had to pass to get designations for the job. Being the study nerd that I enjoy being, I went ahead and interviewed for the job. I told them I liked the challenge. They had faith in me that I could get it done.
“It’s not straight accounting, but it has accounting to it. It’s getting to mix in finance and accounting all in one, so it’s something I really, really like. Accounting can be more repetitive, whereas the global performance standards are changing and calculations change, so it’s pretty cool to learn every day at work.”
The Hall of Famer is now calculating the changes of her home décor. A wall in the Mills’ game room will have new adornment. Following the Sept. 4 induction ceremony, McKenzie’s Hall of Fame plaque will take its place next to her framed high school softball jersey, which hangs near Zach’s high school baseball jersey and plaque.
“I kind of expected Zach to be in the hall of fame,” McKenzie said. “But, I can’t put it into words how much it means to be a part of Broken Arrow and to be in the Hall of Fame.”
The BA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is scheduled for halftime of the Sept. 4 Tiger football home-opener against the Union Redskins.