Viva Kreis has achieved a number of goals that would take some people a lifetime to attain.
Kreis, a Pittsburgh-area high schooler and incoming Cronkite student, is an Olympic level athlete, world traveler, advocate for women’s sports, varsity letter winner, high school class president, valedictorian and community volunteer.
She can now add another accomplishment to her resume: Heisman winner.
Kreis won the 2022 Heisman High School Scholarship, worth $10,000 for her community service, academics and athletic achievements.
Kreis, a senior at Belle Vernon Area High School, has traveled and competed internationally at the Olympic level for the USA Team Handball Junior National Team, and is a varsity letter winner in cross country, basketball and track and field, winning all-conference and all-district honors in those sports. She’s an advocate for women in sports and she has interviewed dozens of female athletes and sports executives.
She has hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim, run a half-marathon and organized a sock drive that collected 2,100 pairs of socks for the homeless.
Her achievements, advocacy and academics led to her receiving one of the country’s most prestigious scholarships — while inspiring her to pursue a broadcast journalism career.
Kreis plans to study sports broadcasting with the goal of becoming a play-by-play announcer or sideline reporter for women’s basketball. She’ll attend the Cronkite School in the fall semester.
Kreis was encouraged to apply for the Heisman High School Scholarship by her high school counselor. The Heisman High School Scholarship program is administered by the Heisman Trophy to award the most esteemed male and female high school senior scholar-athletes for their accomplishments athletically, academically and in the community. She learned that she won after her grandfather saw her photo on the Heisman Trophy website.
“It’s been such a great opportunity to join the Heisman family. It’s something I never would have imagined when I first filled out the application,” Kreis said.
Kreis attended a special awards ceremony during the Heisman Trophy weekend in New York City, where she had her photos displayed on a Times Square billboard. She also was honored on ESPN during the Heisman Trophy ceremony and met a number of former Heisman winners and media personalities, including ESPN sportscaster Holly Rowe, whom she considers a role model.
“It was so cool to be around everyone, and everyone was so relaxed. You could have a conversation with anyone that you wanted to,” she said. “It’s a great networking opportunity. I’ve handed out a lot of my business cards and received theirs in return.”
Kreis’ path to journalism grew from the same passion that drives her success in sports and community service.
In 2019, she was working on an academic project that gave her the idea to travel to all 12 WNBA arenas to learn how women’s basketball was breaking barriers. She interviewed more than 50 players, coaches and executives to learn how sports impacted their lives.
“That experience opened my eyes,” she said. “Before that summer, I really didn’t think about journalism or broadcasting as my career. After that summer, I felt like I had become so much more comfortable interviewing and asking questions, so it’s something I found out that I really enjoyed.”
Her most memorable experience was visiting the Phoenix Mercury.
“First, Diana Taurasi surprised me, which was amazing. And while I was interviewing the team president, Brittney Griner came and sat next to me for an interview. After the game, they brought me to the locker room and included me in the team chant. The team even gave me a custom jersey with my name on it,” she said. “It’s definitely a full-circle moment. They were the ones who treated me the best and made my experience the best that it could be, and now I’m coming back to the Mercury at ASU.”
Kreis chose ASU after her research showed that the Cronkite School was one of the top journalism schools in the country.
“I was researching the best broadcasting and journalism schools across the country and ASU kept coming up over and over,” she said. “And I said ‘if this is something I want to do for the rest of my life, and if I want to major in journalism and broadcasting then I should go to the best of the best, and that’s ASU.’”