Belle Vernon’s Viva Kreis takes home national High School Heisman honors

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Thursday, December 1, 2022 | 1:01 AM


In 1994, the Heisman High School Scholarship was created to extend the Heisman Trophy’s prestige from college football to the nation’s most esteemed high school seniors.

Now, Westmoreland County is home to one of the winners.

Belle Vernon senior Viva Kreis is the female recipient of the 2022 Heisman High School Scholarship, a $10,000 award.

“I think it’s a great honor. When I first applied, I didn’t even dream of it,” Kreis said. “Once the awards kept coming and I was named a finalist, my excitement started to grow. It culminated with the announcement being the national award win. It’s an honor and a great opportunity to win such a prestigious award.”

Opportunity indeed, as the “Heisman Family” grows beyond just an award for the player selected as the best college football player in the country.

“I really do think it’s an opportunity. You hear talk a lot about joining the Heisman family. That’s something that can be a great asset to my future career in women’s sports and being a broadcaster,” Kreis said.

Kreis was captain of the cross country team, a varsity letterwinner in the sport, all-conference and All-WPIAL and a three-time state qualifier.

She played varsity basketball for three seasons and was named all-conference and all-district.

In track and field, she was a varsity letterwinner, team captain, all-conference, all-district and a school record holder.

She’s now focused on being an Olympic athlete with the Team USA Handball, where she also participated in the U20 World Handball Championships in Slovenia and the North America and Caribbean Junior Handball Championships in Mexico City.

Along with being a world traveler, Kreis has traveled the nation, along with her mother Mary, going on her WNBA tour. She became part of the WNBA media team, interviewing players, coaches and WNBA executives.

She’s already becoming a role model to a new generation of young women in sports in Western Pennsylvania.

“It makes me feel great, and I think it’s really special,” she said. “If I can make a difference in just one other girl’s life, that’s extremely fulfilling for me. Coaching younger players, it’s all about having personal conversations with them and giving them an experience to talk to someone who was once where they were. Hopefully one day, they’ll be aiming to win this award, too.”

Kreis will attend the Walter Kronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State upon her graduation in the spring. Becoming a female in the sports journalism industry is a daunting task, but Kreis is determined, as she has been throughout her athletic and academic career, to reach her goal.

“I would say I really thought about it when I went on the WNBA tour in 2019,” Kreis said of her 12-market jaunt through the league. “It really sparked my interest in trying to gain representation as a female in the industry. If I can become a broadcaster and go on that side of sports, I believe I can really make a difference and make the field grow.”

Kreis said ESPN sideline reporter Holly Rowe is an inspiration and someone she admires, but her role model is Bleacher Report’s Arielle Chambers.

“I was able to meet her, and she immediately became a role model for me,” she said. “She really uses her social media account, and it continues growing. She’s had a number of great speaking opportunities to talk about her experiences. She’s actually someone I’m still in contact with and someone I definitely look up to.”

Kreis’ athletic and academic career exemplify what the Heisman program stands for, including being a community-minded student-athlete.

She ranks first in her class, is a member of the Interact Club, president of the National Honor Society, a National Merit scholar and class president. She’s a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, a National History Day state medalist, has participated in the WPIAL sportsmanship summit, the Outdoors Club leader and has organized the Belle Vernon girls basketball team’s Teddy Bear toss and Sock-it-to-Homelessness sock drive.

She’s been a part of multiple fundraisers for Michael’s Ovation, the Bag Brigade and the Veterans Leadership Program’s “Food Raiser.”

“I think this award is going to be really beneficial propelling me forward and giving me confidence to continue aiming for my goals,” Kreis said. “It shows I can make a difference in everything I do. I’ll continue using it as motivation and moving forward and making a difference in my community and all women’s sports.”

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