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20 under 40: Mikayla Lehman, athletic director at Decatur Christian School and marketing coordinator at Trump Direct

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Mikayla Lehman

Age: 25

Occupation: Marketing coordinator and customer service at Trump Direct, athletic director at Decatur Christian School, head girls varsity basketball coach at Decatur Christian School and youth referee at Decatur Family YMCA

Family: Parents, Joe and Roberta Lehman; siblings Heather Cline (husband, Jared) and Amber Edwards (husband, Josh and daughters, Esther Rose and Emiley Grace); paternal grandma Helen Lehman and maternal grandma Betty Warren.

Career highlights and/or accomplishments: I graduated from college in May 2016 with a BBA in digital media marketing. I assumed finding a job within a reasonable amount of time would be fairly easy. Lesson learned – never assume! With a lot of patience and faith in God, I waited over two years before I landed a full-time position in the business field. Once 2018 rolled around, everything fell into place. Within a 12 month span, I started reffing at the Y, founded my summer basketball camp, began working at Trump Direct, and was hired as DCS’s girls basketball coach. (God’s timing is perfect, can I get an amen?!) It takes some people years to snag that “dream job,” but I can honestly say I’m living out my dream job(s) right now. Handling marketing at my Monday-Friday job, coaching, and working with the youth?! It can’t get much better than that. When your work is your passion and your passion is your work, you can’t go wrong.

Community involvement: At Trump Direct, whether it be designing projects, providing customer service, or handling product fulfillment, I have the pleasure of working with area leaders, companies, and local businesses.

In February, I finished my second season as head coach at DCS. In August 2019, I accepted the position of athletic director at DCS. Both roles have allowed me to interact with and work alongside students, parents, and staff at the school, as well as athletes, coaches, athletic directors, and referees in the area.

In addition to refereeing youth basketball and soccer, I also provide basketball training. These both provide the opportunity to teach the sports I grew up playing while building life lessons along the way. Forming friendships with YMCA staff, coaches, and families is an added bonus!

In June 2018, I started and hosted “Never Too Small To Ball,” a community-wide basketball camp that gives youth a fun week in the gym where basic skills and fundamentals are covered while teamwork, sportsmanship, and confident mentalities are promoted. This summer will mark the camp’s third annual appearance (depending on COVID-19).

Since graduating from college in 2016, I’ve been a leader in the kids’ club at my home church, East Park Baptist. Planning and teaching weekly lessons, playing games, and helping the kids memorize Bible passages are just a few things I enjoy doing.

What should the community do to attract more young people to the area? Personally, I hold the mindset that starting from scratch isn’t always the best option. Instead, focus on what already exists. From there, build and progress. Love the young people that currently reside within the community. Showing them that you care and are open to hearing their beliefs, ideas, and opinions can go a long way. By implementing things that are of value to them, you begin to gain their trust and loyalty. Trust me, there are plenty of young people in our area that could provide positive things in various facets of life. Sometimes, them knowing that they’re heard is just the extra push they need to get involved. Start getting those people active within the community and you’ll begin attracting others to stay or come to the same city and surrounding areas I love and support.

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

1. In high school, I shattered my elbow and wore a “robot arm” cast for over a month.

2. I went to an NBA game and played on an NBA court all in the same day.

3. My dad’s side of the family is made up of 120 people. I’m grandkid 24/25, but there are also 50 great-grandkids and 11 great-great grandkids!

What is the best and worst piece of advice you have ever received?

Best: At age 16, I started my first-ever job as an assistant at DR Roberts Photography. At some point during that first summer working there, my bosses (DR and Ann Roberts) were out of town and more or less trusted me to handle things while they were gone. Because I was fairly new and still “learning the ropes,” Ann left me a to-do list of things I should strive to accomplish by the end of the week. I won’t lie, as I read down the paper, I was a bit overwhelmed. At the very bottom, though, Ann had written, “How do you eat an elephant, Mikayla? One bite at a time!” When Ann returned to the office, she explained that that was her way of saying, “No matter how big and daunting a task may look or seem, do your best and just tackle it one step at a time.” Almost 10 years later, I still have that yellow piece of paper and that same quote has helped me get through many hectic times.

Worst: When anyone in general tells me I can’t do something because of my age, gender, or size. If people underestimate your abilities or say that your dreams are crazy and can never be reached, those aren’t your people and you probably shouldn’t listen to them.

What are your three favorite movies? I love sports-themed movies, so… "Remember the Titans," "Radio" and (A tie for 3rd) "Coach Carter" and "Breakthrough."

What would your perfect Saturday be like? It’d be exactly what I’d normally be doing on Saturdays, if it weren’t for Corona. I would ref a full day’s worth of youth basketball or soccer at the Y. While there, I would spend time with some of my favorite kids and their families and Abby Lowe, the sports program director at the Y, who’s become one of my closest pals. At the conclusion of the games, I’d head straight to Taco Bell to grab a Baja Blast Freeze (anyone who knows me knows that’s my go-to drink). It may sound like a simple or boring day to some, but not to me! I usually find the most enjoyment and happiness in the simple things of life.

Who inspires you to be better? My parents! Without them, I wouldn’t be who or where I am today. They love me no matter what, they show me how to genuinely care for people — in big and little ways, and they’ve instilled in me a solid work ethic paired with a feisty and determined spirit. By seeing firsthand how they live, I’ve learned the importance of “Don’t quit. Once you start something, you better finish it,” and the value of prayer, wisdom, and thoughtfulness when making decisions. Their support is unmatched — they’ve cheered for me during great times and held my hand during difficult times. Even at age 25, if a problem (big or small) comes up, I’m getting ahold of dad or mom…and without a doubt, I know they’ll always answer. They’ve sacrificed a lot for my success, and they never fail to make me feel special. They’d never make their deeds the focal point, but it was their prayers, hard work, finances, and excitement of seeing where life would take me that gave me and got me through a K-12 private school education as well as a degree earned from a 4-year university. I’ve inherited many traits, quirks, and sayings from them, but the most special to me are: 1) Keep God No. 1. Stay close to Him in good AND bad times. 2) If you’re going to love people, love them hard (especially your grandparents because they’re a treasure). 3) Life is short. Be passionate, make memories, and laugh a lot (even at yourself). 4) There are times to speak up and there are times to keep quiet. Know the difference. 5) If you want something, go after it…and then work hard to keep it. 6) God made no mistake when He created you the way you are. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Be unashamedly you. My parents have made me a better person and because of them, I know there’s always room to DO better, BE better, and LIVE better, and they inspire me to do just that.

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