No, it’s not Bruce Irvin or Pat McAfee.
It’s Ciara Chic Kimbrough.
Who, you might ask? Well, Kimbrough, BA ’04, Sociology and Anthropology and All-American WVU track and field star, has been busy winning titles since leaving Morgantown 11 years ago. She is a two-time Independent Women’s Football League champion with the Pittsburgh Passion.
“I saw a game on TV one day, and immediately knew I wanted to be a part of that team,” she said. “So, I bought a cheap helmet and cleats and tried out. Three years later I was a starter at tailback.”
Kimbrough grew up in Rand, W.Va., the same town as former NFL legend Randy Moss. That’s where she learned her competitiveness — from her classmates and her older brother, who she called one of the smartest players she’s ever been around.
“The playground fights that I got into were because someone tested better than someone else,” she said of her classmates. “And I always wanted to do everything better than my older brother. I had to be smarter, faster … whatever he did, I had to be better.”
And she got better at WVU where she had a track and field scholarship.
“Spending four years as a student-athlete is definitely a lot different than being a traditional student. It goes by very quickly,” she said. “It happened so fast, in fact, that I wished I would’ve taken an extra year. I’d still do it all over again if I could.”
At WVU, she became a standout. She earned All-American honors in 2001, her freshman year, as a member of the distance medley relay team and was widely considered to be one of the top athletes to come out of West Virginia in that decade. To this day, you can still find Kimbrough (listed as Ciara Chic) in the Mountaineers’ record book. She holds the third-fastest time in the 60-meter dash, which she earned in 2003.
Her interest in archeology brought her to Pittsburgh a few years after she earned her degree at WVU. That’s when she first heard about professional women’s football.
Two championships later, including one from this past summer, Kimbrough is finally hanging up her gear and retiring.
“As an athlete, you have two deaths: the first is understanding that you can’t play your sport anymore, and the second one is just the reality of moving on,” she said. “Knowing I left a champion makes it a little easier to say goodbye.”
Now that she’s retired from professional football, she has the opportunity to return to the passion she developed when she was just 12 — archeology — after watching many Indiana Jones films.
“When I first got to put a trowel in the ground, I was probably in 10th grade,” said Kimbrough of her junior archeology dig at the Capitol in Charleston. “The fact that I was going to be the first person in hundreds or even thousands of years to touch an object since it was placed there was just so cool to me.”
Currently, Kimbrough works at a settlement service company working with lenders and doubles as an on-call archaeologist and inspector for Cosmos Technologies Inc., located in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“I would be happy if I could have a job where 50 percent was archaeology, learning and documenting unwritten culture about past civilizations,” she said, “and 50 percent working on something environmental that will impact the way we live and use our natural resources.”
She’s found all different types of artifacts, but her favorite, she says, has to be arrowheads from the early and late Woodland Period (1,000 B.C. to 900 A.D.).
Because her football seasons took place during spring and summer, Kimbrough missed out on some archeological digs. Now, she’s off in search of her next chapter, one filled with fewer crunching tackles and a few more Indiana Jones-esque expeditions.