TCT’s The Countless Thanks 2022: Kiera Kemppainen

To Aunt Kelly, I wish you were reading this

You taught me that it’s okay to get lost, after all, it’s the journey that matters. At the same time, you taught me that confidence is key. Somehow you managed to get my mom and me to follow you down the mountain skiing when you had no clue where to go. You seemed like you knew what you were doing until we ended up having to get our skis off and walk back. We definitely didn’t get to the right destination, but the journey, laughs, and memory made it worth it. I was lucky enough to spend so many winter and spring breaks with you. I had the opportunity to soak up all the wisdom you held. You taught me to live in my own world. In Kellyworld, you were free of judgment and lived like it. But ultimately, you showed me how important it is to stay positive, no matter the situation. You kept on laughing. I’ll forever miss you.

To the golf girls, forever making my days better

I couldn’t have asked for a better team. We’ve shared a lot of moments together throughout the season, and I’m so grateful for each of you. I love you all, and can’t wait for our next season, and the definite team dinners until then. Morgan, I’m so grateful to spend both my sports seasons with you. You always care so deeply about what’s going on in my life and never fail to make me laugh, even when you don’t mean to. I love ranting with you in my car, even if we’ve barely done it. We both have so many words to say and so much advice to give in a drive that only lasts the length of one song, and it leads to the best kind of chaos that only you can give. Izzie, at this point, I think we can convey certain emotions and frustrations with a single look, and can very easily influence each other’s emotions. While this leads us to get upset at the same time, it also allows us to feed off of each other’s energy when we’re laughing. Abby, I swear I’m not always making fun of your height, and don’t act like it. You forever make me laugh with a different sense of humor than I’m used to. You’re forever a steady voice despite anything going on around us. Quinn, you are my inspiration; when I grow up, I hope to be you. You always bring so much energy and have a closet that I’ll forever envy. You are literally good at everything and it frustrates me but makes me love you more. Skyler, you may possibly be the most outgoing person I’ve ever met. I barely knew you before the season started, but you quickly became a driving force in the team getting close. There is never a dull moment with you. Maya, thank you for taking over my lunch table. Had you not, I wouldn’t be able to catch up with you so much after the season. I feel lucky in the fact that after so many classes together over the years, I finally got to spend more time with you on the team, and now at lunch. Claire, you’re still my favorite coworker, even if you made me do the messy jobs. As if spending the summer working together—despite barely getting scheduled at the same time—wasn’t enough, I got to spend the fall in the presence of your ever-sarcastic laugh and jokes, and somehow I’m thankful. Eisley, the sunshine through the rain. You are the embodiment of happiness in a person. You are so bubbly and so kind, and so full of laughter. I think you make all of our moods better. 

To Kirstin, forever and always

I always wanted to be you growing up; you’ve been my sole inspiration that has stuck. I was always in anticipation of your next visit and wanted to spend every second with you. I remember trying volleyball, just because you played it. I definitely did not have a natural talent for it, so that didn’t quite stick, but nevertheless, I had wanted to be like you. Watching you grow up, go to college, get a job, get married, and start a family has been one of the best parts of my life. You are the sister I never had, the friend I’ve always loved, and the cousin I got. 

To Maya Sneider, my “twin”

Maya and Kiera, forever twinning. What started off as coincidental buying of the same pants has turned to a new level. We spent summer matching our clothes and wearing each other’s for barely any reason. It’s like playing dress-up in my room as elementary schoolers all over again. I know we’ve had many disagreements and times that we’re mad at each other, but you’re stuck with me. You are the other candy corn to mine, the face smiling back at me in a warped mirror, the person taking up the other side on a fair ride, my favorite tubing partner, the best person to golf with, and my best friend through it all. I love you long time. 

To Nora Ingram, forever bringing the drama

Well, not really, it’s just your year. As per our typical alternating pattern of who gets the most exciting year, sadly, junior year is yours. But I’ll be okay, I enjoy listening to your life. I love our random life updates or when I text you filling you in on something you don’t even know about. I love telling you that the pizza delivery guy is at your house when I arrive, all because I did it so many years ago. Our schedules often overlap, but we always eventually find time. Even with going to different schools and barely seeing one another, you’ve been a constant force in my life. You’ll always be the 9 to my 10, just like we were all those years ago.

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