It’s been quite the run for Pittsburgh Passion running back Ciara Chic Kimbrough.
Growing up in a small town in southern West Virginia, Kimbrough just wanted to be like her brother and play football. Now, after playing the sport she loves professionally for the Passion in the IWFL, Kimbrough, will be inducted into the Pittsburgh Sportsline Hall of Fame on Monday.
A popular radio show in the city hosted by Allen Levine “The Talking Machine,” “Smokin'” Jim and Zach Brenner, Sportsline will also induct six others: Sindel Barnes, Jodi Velazquez, Skeets Levandosky, Jose Caraballo and Mario Tempest.
As a child in Rand, West Virginia, Kimbrough grew up with the desire to be better than the boys in her neighborhood, whether that meant out-running them or catching more passes in a pickup game of football.
Her biggest motivator was her brother, who was a local high school football standout.
“I wanted to be just like him and be better than him. That was my goal my whole life,” she said. “He was a constant push. He was a running back in high school. He had scholarships to go play football at West Virginia Wesleyan but just decided college wasn’t for him.”
She went on to earn a track and field scholarship at West Virginia University, where she became an All-American and still holds records for the school.
She graduated from WVU with degrees in archaeology and social work and then went to graduate school at Ball State, where she helped the track team. When done there, she finally got away from sports and took an archaeology job in Pittsburgh.
One day while at home back in Riverside, Kimbrough saw an ad for the Pittsburgh Passion on TV.
“I told my mom that I wanted to play and that I was going to go try out.” she remembered. “Then when I got back to Pittsburgh, I found out that one of my neighbors actually played for the Passion. So I met her and tried out the next week.”
Since joining the team, Kimbrough has used her biggest asset – her speed – to the best of her ability, quickly picking up the game of football and helping the Passion to an IWFL Championship last season.
As the squad prepares for the semifinals of this year’s playoffs tomorrow in Altoona, Kimbrough will be out there with her teammates, hoping to advance to one more championship game before calling it quits at the end of the season.
The run has been a special one for Kimbrough, who said she never thought her name would become a known commodity anywhere.
“It feels good,” she said of being inducted. “I never thought my name would be known anywhere outside of West Virginia. Even then it was so surreal in knowing that people knew about me and followed me.
“We (women) play football because we love it, not for fame or money,” she continued. “So when people say, ‘Oh, you’re number 11? You’re a heckuva runner!’ it makes me smile. Or the fact that little girls look up to you and say, ‘I want to play football when I get older.’ It’s just a great feeling.”
Receiving the honor, she said, is just one other way that she hopes to show young females that they can truly be successful in following their dreams.
“Now to be placed in the realm of local greats is just icing on the cake for my last season of my football career,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to get here. From a young player who knew nothing about football and waiting for the last five minutes in the fourth quarter to being a starter and an intricate part of our team and understand blocking and where my receivers are for blocks is one of my biggest accomplishments as an athlete.”
Kimbrough came back this season after stepping away from the game a year ago to get married. After she had thought it was her final year then, she decided to come back and has played the second half of the season this year.
Being able to pass on the Passion legacy to newcomers, though, is something she has truly enjoyed this year.
“Do I wish that I could have played the whole season and pushed my stats and my physical ability to the limits? Yes, no doubt,” she said. “But this is how it’s supposed to play out, and now I’m ready for the next chapter for my life.
“Will I miss football? Absolutely,” she continued. “But it’s time for a new class of Passion players to be born into greatness.”
Photo Credit: Ciara Chic Kimbrough