The quiet leader
Laid back and enjoying life, Kilgore looks back at HHS and looks forward to college
*The following is part three in a four-part series honoring the four Hartselle High School senior softball players. This year's seniors have won three state titles in four years.
Nick Johnston, Hartselle Enquirer
She just laughs, and talks with an unmistakable country draw.
She never gets riled up about anything.
Holly Kilgore may be the most laid-back softball player anyone ever has met.
Whether it's talking about times passed on the softball field, or what she will do with her life off the field, she's always laughing – poking fun at herself.
Kilgore will surprise most. She's quiet on the field, but off the field, it's a different ball game.
Looking back during her high school career, a career including three state championships, Kilgore remembers a tournament in ninth grade most vividly.
"We went to Troy for a tournament when I was in ninth grade," she said. "It was our first tournament in high school, and we had so much fun. We sang and danced in the dugout … we had a blast."
Kilgore also remembers the 2002 season, when the Lady Tigers won 50 games.
"That was a big accomplishment," she said. "We weren't playing easy teams, either."
She also remembers the 2001 season, when she was a sophomore. It was a season she, along with the other seniors, would like to forget.
Kilgore and the Lady Tigers fell in the Class 5A State Championship Game in 2001. Had they won, Kilgore would be wearing four championship rings, rather than three.
"That was a sad day," she said of the tournament loss. "We were ahead, too. It felt awful, and we didn't want that feeling again this year."
A turning point…
Kilgore's astonishing high school career nearly never started.
After her eighth grade year, she wasn't sure if playing high school softball was what she wanted to do.
The Southern Express then picked her up.
See KILGORE, B-3
Southern Express, a summer travel team, had a glowing reputation as one of the top summer league teams in the state. She was asked to play.
"That was pretty much a turning point for me," Kilgore said. "I realized that summer I wanted to play for Hartselle softball and win state championships."
The team, coached by Dickie Gillott and Randy Lyle, won most of the tournaments it entered.
"We were pretty good," Kilgore said. "We won most of the tournaments we entered … it was a fun summer."
Understanding her role…
Kilgore's plate appearances were few and far between. She didn't play in the outfield every game, either.
She sat on the bench if she was not standing in left field.
Did it bother Kilgore? Apparently not.
"I realize I'm better in the field than I am at batting," she said. "I just tried to be a leader this past year. I tried to lead by example for our JV outfielders."
Head coach Shane Alexander gave Kilgore a lot of credit for the Lady Tigers success this season.
"She's the reason this team came together," Alexander said. "She understood her role, and never complained. And being a senior, she could have complained about not getting to bat a lot, but she didn't. She's the kind of player every coach wants."
A boot for good luck…
Near the close of the season, the Lady Tigers visited Pisgah for a final tune-up before the section tournament.
During warm-ups, Anna Byrd found an old boot in the outfield and decided to show everybody.
"We were like, 'Anna, what are you doing?'" Kilgore said laughing.
The boot was taken to the dugout and stayed there throughout the game – a game that Hartselle won.
"After we won, Coach Al said this is a sign we're going to win and kick butt," Kilgore said. "Every time we beat a team, we put their names on the boot.
"I thought it was crazy, but whatever works."
In the future…
A volleyball coaching, history teacher who loves studying the Civil War.
Kilgore is unique, and her planned career path reflects that. There's not too many high school seniors aspiring to be a history teacher. And there may be even fewer Civil War buffs.
She has "Mrs. McCreelace" to thank for love of history.
"She really influenced my life," Kilgore said of Pat McCreelace, her eighth grade history teacher. "She made her class so much fun."
Kilgore will be attending Central Community College in Alexander City to play volleyball. She may try to walk on the softball team.
"I'm expecting to win while I'm down there," Kilgore said. "That's the main thing. I'm hoping I have a good experience, and I want to take my (volleyball) game to the next level."
She will be looking for another college to attend in two years, as Central is just a two-year school.
"If another school sees me, I wouldn't mind going on to play even more," Kilgore said. "If that doesn't happen, I wouldn't mind going to Auburn."