The Kalina Way: Miles student athlete tears ACL in game, shines at stock show days later
The Runnels County Junior Livestock show once again showcased the hard work of the 4-H and FFA students in Runnels County, but one story in particular stands out.
On Jan. 12, 2021, Runnels County 4-H'er and Miles High School junior student-athlete Allie Kalina went down with a knee injury during their basketball game against Winters. It was just over two minutes into the first quarter when the injury occurred.
As people waited for MRI test results throughout the rest of the week, Kalina kept working with her show steers for the junior livestock show. On Friday evening, Kalina, with a knee brace on, sat on the bench at the Miles-Colorado City basketball game cheering on her team.
During the livestock show on Jan. 16, Kalina, who raised five five steers and showed three, participated in the Runnels County Junior Livestock Show. She walked through the soft dirt of the corral, leading 1,000-pound animals that weren't always cooperative. In between showing her steers, someone provided her a chair behind the corral so that she could rest her injured knee.
It was obvious that Kalina was in significant pain. She was wearing her knee brace, but her limp became even more pronounced as she worked her steer around the corral. It would have been understandable if she had sat out and someone else showed her steer or helped her, but that isn't the Kalina way.
The motto of 4H is "To make the best better." That motto is in good hands with Kalina. Her dedication didn't go unnoticed as several spectators discussed her injury and her participation in the livestock show.
One lady, obviously impressed with Kalina, phoned a friend, "You're not going to believe this. Allie is in there showing her steer."
Kalina won Grand Champion steer at the Runnels County show, but all together the family has "four or five Grand Champion banners."
In addition to Grand Champion at the 2021 Runnels County show, Kalina also won Senior Showmanship.
Kalina has a matter-of-fact approach when talking about walking three steers around the show pen with that torn ACL.
"Deciding to do the show wasn't hard because I knew that I could do it," she said. "It hurt, but I was able to do it. There was one time where my calf pushed back and my knee locked up. My knee was swollen and sore, but I got through it all OK."
At the basketball game on Friday, I asked how her injury was doing. She told me that she had torn her ACL. I commented, "Well, I guess you're going to have surgery soon." Kalina paused for a moment, then shined a big smile, "No, I won't. It's show season. I'll get surgery after show season is over."
Kalina started showing steers when she joined 4-H in the third grade. According to her father, Cecil, cattle were something that she had an interest in before joining 4-H, "When she was 4 or 5 years old, she'd be out there dragging a calf around."
Cecil says that now she's dragging full-grown one-year-old steers around the state, "We do the Runnels County show, Ft. Worth, Abilene, San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. We also do two or three jackpots in the summer."
In 4-H, she qualified twice for state in Livestock Judging and Livestock Skillathon. She participated in the Record Book. Kalina is also a member of the Miles FFA and participates on the radio team.
Along with 4-H, Kalina plays basketball, softball, volleyball and has played tennis. With that, she takes college courses and is a member of the National Honor Society.
"We don't have a routine bedtime or schedule," said her mother, Gayle. "Her older sisters also participated in 4-H and FFA. We've been doing this for 21 years."
4-H and FFA are more than simple endeavors, they're a family tradition. Her parents grew up in 4-H and FFA raising hogs. Her older sisters showed steers.
The Kalinas raise commercial cattle for Sklenarik's Smoked Meats.
Kalina says that life doesn't get easier in the summer, "Even though I don't have school work to do, I'm busier in the summer with other stuff."
At home, Kalina moved downstairs from her upstairs bedroom due to the knee injury. Ice is never far away, as she constantly ices the painful knee to help reduce swelling.
As for her plans after she graduates in 2022, "I want to get my master's in physical therapy from Oklahoma State University, then get my doctorate from Texas Tech."
As if her life was not busy enough, she's also helping a cousin, "I have a cousin who has autism, so I'm helping him show."
Kalina is a Texas 4-H Livestock Ambassador, a prime example of what hard work, determination and dedication can do.