Their bond began in seventh-grade, when Grantsville girls basketball coach Morgan Vera prompted young Kenzie Allen to attend team basketball camps. Now, five years later, Vera got an opportunity to send her protege off to college after Allen signed a letter of intent to go to Utah State University Eastern, in Price, Utah.
During last week’s signing event at Grantsville High school, Coach Vera reflected on that time at camp, and the budding relationship that would last for the majority of Allen’s high school basketball career.
“It was one of the first times I really got to coach “Kenz” in a high school environment,” Vera said. “(Initially,) I thought I was doing her a favor by not putting her (and future teammate Ellie Thomas) with the high school kids… I thought I was keeping them innocent.”
“Apparently, I was doing them a disservice; they would have been better off with the older kids,” she added.
Allen also looked back on that time and Vera’s encouragement for her to build on her skills as a basketball player.
“Coach Vera always pushed me to go to those (camps) and it really pushed me to be better,” Allen said.
Over her four years at Grantsville high, Allen and the rest of the girls vastly contributed to the Cowboys’ successes. With two quarterfinal appearances and a semifinal loss in her sophomore year, the team reached the championship game this year and narrowly lost to Morgan High School.
“It was an amazing season, no matter what the outcome was,” Allen said of the 2022-23 campaign. “Even though we didn’t get it (the championship), getting to that state game and going as far as we did; it was really just a great experience and I’m glad we got that far.”
Among the many awards Allen has won over her four years at Grantsville High — in multiple sports — perhaps some of her biggest achievements in basketball was being named the 3A Player of the Year in 2022 and Region 13 MVP this year.
Vera credited Allen’s success to her strong work ethic and self-motivation in every aspect of her game.
“One of my favorite things about Kenzie, and one of the many great traits, is her internal drive that she has to be her best,” she said. “It’s one of the many traits that stands out and it’s the reason she is where she is today.”
Allen’s father Shawn echoed Vera’s remarks and shared an anecdote about his daughter’s early struggles in first grade, when she played for the Junior Jazz on a boys-dominant team.
“All the way from first grade, her determination has always been there,” he said. “She’s always wanted to be playing at the next level somewhere.”
Allen will be attending USU Eastern in the fall and says that she plans to study medicine and physical therapy, and wants to become an athletic trainer sometime in the future.