Kentucky Pride Benefits Rifle Standout Kirby
After beginning to shoot as a member of a small 4-H team at age nine, Kirby immediately fell in love with the sport.
"I was really good at it," Kirby said about starting her career with quite a bit of initial success. "(I said to myself) I need to keep up and start doing this."
When she reached Shelby County (Ky.) High School, Kirby joined the JROTC program, where she competed for four years. It was in high school that Kirby decided she wanted to continue and compete on a collegiate level. And when choosing a college, Kirby already had a good idea of where she wanted to go.
"I was always crazy about Kentucky Rifle because I thought they were such professionals," Kirby said of choosing a rifle program. "I wasn't really looking anywhere else."
Being from the Commonwealth, there is a sense of pride in attending your home state's flagship institution.
"Kentucky Rifle has always been really well-known, and I was just really excited," Kirby said of making her decision to come to UK. "I'm from Kentucky. I wanted to be (a part of) the Kentucky Pride and come to school here and continue the legend."
Kirby certainly has helped to continue the legacy of the Kentucky program. In the four years she has competed for UK, she has been named All-America in air rifle three times and expects nothing less this season.
"My personal goal is to win individual national championship in air rifle," Kirby said. "I just know I have to come in here like any other year and train and work hard to go to that NCAA championship."
Heather's determination for herself and her team does not go unnoticed, especially by UK head coach Harry Mullins.
"She works hard, is very driven, and committed to wanting to see both her success and the team's success," Coach Mullins said of Kirby. "I think having that special attachment of being from Kentucky, she shows a lot of pride in wanting the team to do well."
As Kirby looks forward to her senior season and her future, Mullins knows she's capable of greatness.
"I would love to see her have a great ending to a long career," Mullins said regarding Heather's final season. "I would love for her career not to end for another four or five years (in the Olympics), which I think she's very capable of."
Kirby has made a tremendous impact on this team throughout her career at UK, and her success will leave an impact even after this season concludes.
"She's been a pleasure to have on this team," Mullins said of Kirby. "In my mind, she will stick with me long after she's gone."
Kirby's career has been one of successes both on and off the range. One could say that Kirby is the perfect example of combining hard work and pride to become extremely successful.