As the ball pings against the bat, it flies out of the park. The crowd goes wild, screaming and cheering. High school senior Diana King flips her bat and ceremoniously rounds the bases after connecting a home run that would tie the game in the third inning. As the ninth inning ends, King and her teammates embrace each other, tears of joy and pride streaming down their faces as they celebrate Rye Neck High School’s first section finals win since 2002 against four-time champion and cross-town rival, Valhalla High, marking a sign of things to come for then-high school senior and NYU-bound King.
Growing up in Rye, New York, the now Steinhardt junior was always an active child. She played almost every sport, excelling particularly at tennis and softball. When faced with having to decide between the two sports, King decided to continue with softball because she loved being a part of a team.
“I loved playing tennis, but I also just felt alone a lot of the times on the court,” King said. “Then I’d go and play softball and be around all of friends and have fun and laugh a lot more. So I decided that if I were to continue playing one sport, I’d want it to be softball.”
Last season, King started all 38 games of the 2016-17 season where she led NYU’s offense in runs, hits, home runs and slugging percentage while also demonstrating skillful base running as the Violet’s leading base stealer. Away from the diamond, King also demonstrated her academic merit as the recipient of a number of awards and honors, namely of the University Athletic Association Spring Sport All-Academic and Arthur Ashe, Jr. Sports-Scholar Award.
Now in her third year as pitcher and centerfielder for the softball team, King has become a leading figure in both the locker room and on the field for her teammates. Stern junior and catcher Jacqueline Finn said that King’s presence elevates the team’s expectations to perform.
“Diana is the kind of teammate that makes everyone else around her better because she’s always performing at such a high level,” Finn said. “It makes all of us want to meet her there.”
Head Coach Now-Allah James, who has known King since her high school days, attributes King’s success on the field to her strong leadership skills and work ethic.
“She’s very giving, she’s willing to work with people whenever they ask,” James said. “She’s a great teammate to her teammates. She’s a big leader by example — she works hard, shows up on time, competes every single day whether it’s a game or practice. She just competes and that’s what makes her the player that she is. She works hard on her craft.”
Throughout her life, King has always been active and interested in other kinds of workouts, not just softball.
“I look up to all these fitness YouTubers and Instagrammers, and I feel like I had something different to offer because I play tennis and softball,” King said. “I was watching all these other people to figure out what kind of workouts I could do. And in high school, I also worked out with these football players and basketball players, so I felt like I had a personal training education without actually having it just because I was doing so many different things with different kinds of sports and athletes.”
When not excelling on the softball field, King loves working out and promoting a healthy lifestyle through her Instagram account, where she posts her own workout videos, recipes of healthy snacks that she makes for herself, and more.
“I started @dianakingfitness when I was abroad in [NYU] Madrid, and I wasn’t playing softball,” King said. “So I kind of was experiencing what it would be like to be a normal college student, not playing a sport. But I would always still want to work out and exercise and be active.”
Inspired by fitness bloggers, YouTubers and Instagrammers such as Whitney Simmons, Sarah Stevenson and Natacha Océane, King learned how to eat healthier, work out in different ways and take better care of her body.
“All three people meshed really well together because they each offered different things to me, and so they are the three people that I look up to and learn the most from,” King said.
King’s passion for exercise and healthy living extends beyond herself and serves as a way to inspire the people around her and teach them to never give up.
“She has always been eating healthy since she came into the program,” James said. “She’s big on the weight room; she’s big on working out [and] she always keeps herself in shape no matter what time of year it is even in the offseason. She brings her teammates in to work out with her, and that pushes them to compete with her. She pushes them to get better in that sense.”
For those wishing to live a healthier life, King offered some advice.
“Finding a lifestyle that works for you is a lot of trial and error, and it takes time and patience,” King said. “You won’t see results in a week. But I think the best way to succeed is to have something that you’re working towards all the time, not in an intense way. I think just being goal-driven is the best advice that I can give. Just start small. It doesn’t have to be a huge thing because once you have a huge life change, it never sticks. Start small, be patient and let the process work.”
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 2 print edition. Email Bela Kirpalani at [email protected]