The Cornelia Connelly High School point guard is a fierce player on the basketball court

By Jenelyn Russo     6/12/2016

Playing pick-up games with family members beginning when she was eight years old was how Kayla Orate got her start in basketball.

“It was a family sport,” says Orate of her first exposure to basketball. “Everyone in my family would always play together, and that’s how, I guess, it rubbed off on me.”

The Cornelia Connelly High School point guard enjoys being a leader on the court and controlling the pace of the game, as well as competing day in and day out alongside her teammates.

“What keeps me coming back to basketball is definitely the leadership qualities you get from it,” says Orate. “Basketball has taught me to be confident and to not be afraid of getting injured or failing. I think it’s really taught me…to help your teammates when they need you and to put them before yourself.”

Even though she didn’t wear the title of captain this past season, her leadership skills leave no doubt in Connelly head basketball coach Scott Sangren’s mind that Orate is unquestionably one of the team’s most impactful players.

“While not looking or acting like much of a competitor because of her smaller size and laid back attitude, Kayla is as fierce as they come on the court,” says Sangren of the three-year starter. “She plays great defense and hits important shots for us at key moments during games. We are very fortunate to have Kayla coming back another year.”

As Orate approaches her senior year in the fall, the 16-year old is grateful for the chance to represent the Koalas as a student-athlete.

“I enjoy competing for Connelly because not that many people get to [play sports] in high school, and I like that I get the opportunity to do so,” says Orate. “Everyone on the team, we kind of feel like a family, so we need to help each other, and I enjoy doing that.”

In addition to playing hoops, Orate participates in both choir and theatre at Connelly, all passions she shares with her older sister, Kassie.

“For motivation and inspiration, I definitely look up to my sister,” says Orate. “We’re really close, and we have a lot of the same hobbies and interests. I get advice and feedback from her, so it really helps me to do the best I can in sports and music.”

Looking ahead to after she finishes high school, Orate is considering a career in the medical field, possibly specializing in nursing. Whether it’s a tough day on the court or in the classroom, the Anaheim resident leans on prayer and her faith to overcome any obstacles she may face.

“It just makes me feel more comfortable and more relaxed on the court,” Orate says of her faith. “It calms me down, and my faith has pushed me to do the best that I can.”