What I Know: Grace Ybarra

The International School seventh-grader interviewed Michelle Obama for this month’s SI Kids.

AGE:13  GIG: Sports Illustrated Kids reporter  NEWS FLASH: The International School seventh-grader interviewed Michelle Obama for this month’s SI Kids.


More than 1,200 people applied [for her spot with Sports Illustrated Kids], and they picked eight. I gave them my bio and all of my other stories, including the Super Bowl ones. I’ll bet they were intrigued by that.

I had no doubt that Michelle Obama was going to be kind, but she was just down to earth. When she entered the room, I put out my hand, and she pulled me in for a hug.

I enjoy talking to people. It’s very natural for me. And it’s neat to meet all these cool people.

I try not to get too stressed. My first assignment ever was getting to cover the president and vice president in Kokomo, Indiana, when they visited the Chrysler plant. While we were waiting for them to show up, my mom made me talk to some workers at the plant, and it was kind of hard for her to get me to do that. That’s when I realized I could be thrown into a situation and be able to ask relevant questions.

Adam Sandler was a really difficult interview. He was trying to be funny all the time and kept getting off topic.

Anderson Cooper was hilarious. I was even shorter then, because I was 11. He bent down and talked to me face-to-face. He told me to read everything. It helps expand your vocabulary.

I speak Spanish fluently and am learning Mandarin. At school, I play basketball and lacrosse, and I just started track and field. I love all my classes.

Older journalists say, ‘Hey, don’t get into it.’ But I don’t think anything can stop me from wanting to be a reporter.

The worst part about being around older reporters is getting hit by cameras. At the Super Bowl, I was 4-foot-7. The camera guys would swing around to get footage of the players. I probably had a concussion by the end of the week.


Quotable Ybarra scored career tips from …

“I think the most important thing is just to write a lot. Even if you’re not a print reporter, if you’re a radio reporter or a TV reporter, learning and finding your voice is an important thing, and it takes time.”

—Anderson Cooper, anchor, CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360



“If you want to be successful, read books. I got to where I am by reading.”

—Peter King, Sports Illustrated reporter



“Say what you feel and feel what you say. Always think about where you are going [with your questions], but always listen. Because it may take you somewhere totally different in your next question.”

—Deion Sanders, NFL Hall of Famer and commentator


As told to Amy Wimmer Schwarb

Ybarra photo by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the July 2013 issue.