With the dog days of summer upon us, McKinney Courier Gazette sports editor Kendrick E. Johnson will look back and catch up with some former McKinney ISD athletes who starred at one of the three high schools over the last three decades in the upcoming weeks.
This week’s guest is part of North’s class of 2009 and considered the best and most decorated softball player to ever don a Lady Bulldogs jersey. Currently she’s returned to the area after working abroad and is a speech-language pathologist in Prosper ISD.
Sit back and enjoy the third of six installments of “Where Are They Now” Sunday Spotlight conversations, continuing with guest North volleyball legend, University of Baylor product and member of the McKinney ISD Hall of Honor Class of 2020 Kathy Shelton.
What do you remember most about being a part of the Lady Bulldogs softball team?
Shelton: The thing I remember most about being a part of the Lady Bulldog softball team is the laughter. We spent every day together; my teammates were my best friends.
I remember the team dinners, the Target shopping sprees to get our crazy headbands and bows, the dare nights and going to eat Taco Bell or Chicken Express before our home games. We were such a fun team – always laughing, joking and dancing. I remember my amazing teammates.
How much pride do you have to still be the career and season steals and single-season hits leader in North program history a whole decade later?
Shelton: I wasn’t aware that I still held those records, but that’s awesome to still have my name in the record book with some of the best to ever come through the Bulldog program.
When you’re playing, you don’t do it for the awards – you’re just doing the best that you can and playing hard for your team, but it’s cool that the effort paid off and that those records still stand.
How does it feel to have played a big role in the best softball team in North history?
Shelton: I was super fortunate to be at North with other girls who were used to competing at a high level because of club softball. Some of us had even played together outside of high school.
We’d been facing tough competition and playing in big games since we were young and that helped us be successful in high school ball. It was a special group and I’m thankful that I got to be a part of it.
Do you stay in contact with your teammates that were also a part of the best era in North softball history and does it blow the group’s mind that the program has never missed the playoffs to this day?
Shelton: When I got a chance to catch up with my teammates from North, we always reminisce and remember the fun times we had. We understand more now that we were blessed to have such a talented group of girls go through the program together.
It’s always good to see your alma mater continue to have success. I’m proud to say I’m from McKinney North and that I played for the Lady Bulldog softball team.
Describe the emotions when you got the call that you will be part of the McKinney ISD Hall of Honor Class of 2020?
Shelton: I had no idea that I was even nominated so getting the call from coach Pratt was such a surprise. I was a little shocked but mostly excited.
I think Pratt said only one other person from North has been inducted before this year, so to have my name brought up and voted in for the 2020 class is truly humbling. I’m thankful to be thought of and remembered.
How did growing up in the city of McKinney give you the foundation to thrive at Baylor and be successful?
Shelton: I told my mom the other day how grateful I am that McKinney is where her and my dad ended up when we moved to Texas. I had every opportunity to be successful.
I had coaches that invested in me not just as a player, but as an individual and it all helped me mature, learn how to lead and be coachable. My experiences helped me to step in at Baylor and be a good teammate and player. I enjoyed growing up in this city and I’m back to call it home again.
Who influenced you the most when you were playing at North and how has their positive influence helped you be successful on and off the field?
Shelton: I had lots of great coaches during my time at North. My volleyball coaches Alysia Neill, Lisa Rice and Erica Easterly, loved me really well – they taught me a lot about being a good teammate and I had awesome relationships with each of them.
My softball coach, Laura Brent, pushed me to be better and to work harder. I respected her so much – she was a tough coach, she kept me accountable and I knew she had my back and was one of my biggest fans. I really enjoyed all my coaches and I know they’re a big part of the person I grew to be.
What are you doing these days and would you ever play a big role for the program that catapulted your legendary career?
Shelton: I am currently working as a speech-language pathologist in Prosper ISD. I also do some work as an online fitness coach. I’m passionate about helping kids and all things health.