ARLINGTON — In sports, there seems to be an established dichotomy between two kinds of athletes — the naturally gifted and those who work hard.
But there’s also the athlete who has both traits, and Marysville little leaguer Malakhi Knight is a prime example.
Just 12 years old, Malakhi stands 5-foot-8 above his teammates and weighs 134 pounds. He led a Marysville Little League team to a championship. He dominated the league at the plate and mound. He recorded 18 home runs this season, with 14 in the regular season and four in the tournament. He pitched three no-hitters prior to the championship game, coach Ernie Brown said.
He cracked his 18th homer in the championship game, when the Marysville Mavericks trounced Stilly Valley in the Strawberry Tournament 8-6 June 12. Malakhi is expected to play all-stars when that starts June 28.
His athletic prowess was displayed in the “Fastest Man” competition held at the annual Strawberry Tournament, where Knight placed first running around all four bases in 11.15 seconds.
He also won the home run derby with 10 over the fence.
Though naturally gifted, Malakhi’s father, Ryan Knight, trains him five days a week, working on his agility by performing box jumps.
“I tell all the kids on the team to do what Malakhi does,” Knight said. “Eat, sleep, play sports.”
Knight was an athlete himself, earning a scholarship to play wide receiver for the University of Washington. He “had speed” in those days, and knows Malakhi got it from him.
For Malakhi, two things come before sports, and that is his team and grades.
“He’s a selfless kid,” Brown said. “He just wants others to succeed. He’s a better kid than an athlete.”
Knight said it’s the support of his team that makes him do so well, whether it’s trying to get better with his team or helping others.
“They cheer me on the mound saying, ‘You’re a great player,'” he said. “It helps me out a lot.”
He looks up to Major League pitchers like Mariner Felix Hernandez.
“He has a good attitude, and he is a great pitcher,” Malakhi said. “He’s basically good at everything.”
Malakhi plays other sports as well, such as select basketball.
High school will determine which sport he will pursue, Knight added.
And for grades, Malakhi is a 4.0 student, his dad said.
His goals for Malakhi are to get good grades, and to get a scholarship to college, whether it is through academics or athletics.
“Grades come first,” Knight added.