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Keanu and Lakin

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Standout athletes go from high school to college sweethearts

By Peter W. Zubaty, Sports Editor

 

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Bardstown Tigers v. Nelson County Cardinals.

Steelers v. Cowboys.

U of L v. UK.

It shouldn’t have happened, what with these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, but the love story between Keanu Young and Lakin Walls has conquered all that stuff.

“Lakin and Keanu have been in love for so long, and it’s unique because they push one another in sports and also in the classroom,” said Eljay Cowherd, Young’s close friend and former Bardstown teammate. “They sometimes have cute little competitions in both sports and school. Like whose GPA is better and who’s faster and this this and that. It’s been that way for a while, and as Keanu’s brother, I’ve got great respect for Lakin.”

Of course, it helps that Young, who was a three-sport standout at Bardstown High School, and Walls, who excelled at three sports at Nelson County High School, are both now Campbellsville Tigers. Keanu has the second-most receptions (as of press time Saturday morning) for the Campbellsville football team, where he’s now a sophomore, while Lakin, a freshman, is tied for the Campbellsville women’s soccer team’s lead in goals scored.

“All throughout high school, we always talked about how it would be cool if we went to the same school,” Keanu said. “I never thought she’d go to Campbellsville.”

“I like it a lot there,” Lakin said, but admitted it’s kind of strange being a Tiger now after being a Cardinal for so many years. “It’s different. It’s hard to convert.”

The relationship started innocently enough, with the help of Keanu’s sister, Taylor.

“I walked into my first practice at OKH when I first transferred and he came with me,” Taylor Young said. “The whole team introduced themselves, and as practice went on, they were all asking me about him, telling me he was cute and that stuff. Keanu spotted Lakin out of all of them and he asked me to get her number for him. For about two weeks I would come home from practice and as soon as he saw me he would ask me if I had gotten her number. When I finally gave it to him, they started texting and it just went from there.”

It took a while, Keanu said, “but within that next year, it all came around.”

Jordan Stallings, who’s been a teammate of Lakin’s since they were 6 years old and is now a freshman on the Campbellsville women’s soccer squad, said the two acted nervous around each other early on in the relationship as they tried to figure each other out.

“I didn’t even know who he was until Taylor came to OKH,” Lakin said. “I thought he was cute. I had to get to know him first to make sure he wasn’t a punk.”

The school rivalry — her at Nelson County and him at Bardstown — was probably the biggest thing they had to overcome, Keanu said. Teammates and classmates would needle them about dating someone from that “other school.”

“It was rough,” Lakin said.

It’s not just competing high schools, either. Keanu cheers for Louisville, while Lakin is a Kentucky fan. He pulls for the Pittsburgh Steelers; she claims the Dallas Cowboys. There’s a fierce competitive streak between them, they say, whether they’re playing video games, soccer, or just a friendly game of H-O-R-S-E.

“When we lace ’em up it gets serious,” Keanu said. “That whole boyfriend and girlfriend thing …”

“It goes away,” Lakin said.

Over time, as their bond grew, they got to know each other’s families better. Taylor says Lakin was shy at first around the Youngs, but is now seen as one of the family. Keanu said he was intimidated by meeting the Walls family, and especially wasn’t sure about going tubing on the lake with Lakin’s father, G.B., driving the boat.

Taylor said her brother changed when he started dating Lakin.

“He was a lot happier, and he started to focus on school more and become more driven in sports,” she said. “She’s made him a better person, in school, sports, just in life all together. She’s played a huge role in who he is today.”

Cowherd said their competitiveness and different interests complemented each other.

“Keanu and Lakin were good at balancing strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “Like what Keanu wasn’t strong at Lakin was, and so she helped him and vice versa.”

They’re taking an English class together now, and she sometimes helps him out with it. When Lakin was new on campus at Campbellsville, Keanu was able to show her and her friends around, get them where they needed to go. They’re able to work around each other’s busy schedule in order to find time to spend together, and they talk out any problems they have, which both say is key to their strong relationship.

“I really feel like she’s the one,” Keanu said. “She’s shown me a lot.”

Taylor Young, who helped get it all started, thinks it’s bound to last.

“It’s actually a pretty good feeling, just watching the both of them grow as individuals and as a couple,” she said. “I feel like the future holds big things for them and I’ll be glad that I’ll be able to say I had a huge part in it.”