At age 16, Kyah Zurek is an academic star as well as a standout soccer player. Adopted from China in 2007, she wants to play professional soccer and will attend the University of Portland in 2024 to chase her dreams!
Kyah was adopted from Xiuchuan, China by her parents Drew and Stephanie Zurek in 2007 when she was 9 months old. Her parents brought her home to Portland, Oregon. They lived in Portland until 2011, when they moved down to Phoenix, Arizona where Kyah now attends Casteel High School in Queen Creek.
In January 2024, Kyah will be returning to her former hometown when she enrolls in college as an athletic scholar at the University of Portland! Kyah is an academic star as well as a standout soccer player. She has her sights set on playing professional soccer and eventually working in marketing or player relations for Nike.
“I want to play and then go on and to have a career working with other players” says Kyah.
Kyah also has a heart for helping others. She says growing up adopted as an Asian player with white parents and siblings has taught her to understand the challenges others can face.
“You can’t tell by simply looking at someone what they might be going through,” she says.
Kyah was recently a profile subject for the sports website, Sports360AZ. The piece details how growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood and school, she found it difficult to assimilate. She sometimes felt insecure when it came to knowing about native foods, drinks, languages and celebrations in China.
“When I got to high school, I didn’t have my culture to look upon,” Kyah told Sports360AZ. “I knew I needed to make new friends and become comfortable with who I am.”
A friend of Kyah’s, Abby Ko, helped introduce Kyah to her own culture.
“She started teaching me Mandarin and I told her it was just like you’re culturing me,” Kyah said in the article. “We would go to the Asian markets together and get authentic boba. It was just so significant because it opened my eyes to what my culture was like… and my parents didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know much about the Asian market.”
Kyah has also received support from people familiar with professional sports! NBA Hall of Famer Steve Nash, Phoenix Suns legend and soccer enthusiast, was her father Drew Zurek’s roommate and teammate. Nash has been a consistent role model for Kyah.
Kyah has also looked to her godfather, former MLB baseball player Randy Winn, for support. Zurek, Nash and Winn all played sports together at Santa Clara University in the early 1990s.
Ever since, they have remained friends and Nash and Winn have provided Kyah with advice and mentorship.
“I have known Drew and Stephanie Zurek since we were about 18 years old,” Winn told Sports360AZ. “They all attended Santa Clara University where Randy and Drew redshirted and played basketball together.”
Two other men who have played a big role in Kyah’s life are her older brothers, Colin and Caden. Both siblings have been their little sister’s protectors and champions since she arrived in the U.S.
“When Kyah first came home I would go into her room and find Caden sleeping under her crib watching over her,” says Stephanie Hall-Zurek, Kyah’s mother.
Kyah agrees that the love and acceptance from her brothers and the unconditional support from her parents have been foundational to her success in sports and in life.
Circle Back – Adoptee Mentoring
Designed for adoptees, by adoptees, Holt’s Circle Back program strives to help youth adoptees build a positive identity. Help your child connect with an older adoptee through a Circle Back mentorship. Sign your child up today!