Published May 8, 2014
By Tony Adams, Sports Editor
Many people have talked about their memories of Temple catcher Kimberlyn “Kimmy” Longbotham.
I have covered many events in Belton in the 18 months that I been back here and consider myself blessed to have met so many great people doing what I do.
We all see rivalries for what they are: color versus color, mascot versus mascot, athlete versus athlete. It’s as old as world the has been in existance.
We often overlook that these are still young people who have not yet entered the prime of their lives and are friends away from the fields of competition.
I was tremendously blessed to be in the presence of an angel at a baseball game. Sitting and covering the South Grand Prairie-Belton game at Tiger Field during game two on Friday night, a beautiful young woman sat next to several of us that were not only watching the game, but were also watching my cell phone for updates on the Belton Lady Tigers-Lewisville game two in Glen Rose.
The woman looked strikingly familiar, but I could not place the face with the name. We were talking softball and she said she came out to support her brother, Jayme Kidder.
It struck me like a bolt of lightning: this was Kimmy Longbotham.
We started talking about the TemCats season while we were watching the Belton baseball game and talked about Lexi Smith and her accomplishments. She told me that Lexi was great, that the Temple girls loved all of the Belton girls and she was friends with everyone on the team.
Just then a text message came through from my friends Ron Stewart and Todd Mraz that Alyson Bishoff hit a monster home run over the scoreboard in Glen Rose. I told Kimmy about the homer and she broke out in a big smile and expressed how happy she was for Aly and what she accomplished at Belton.
“If that was Aly’s last at-bat in Belton, that’s the way she should end her career here,” said Kimmy.
As the game ended, I told her that I hoped to see her at Baylor on Saturday and she smiled and waved.
Less than an hour later, tragedy struck. Kimmy was driving on Airport Road returning from the game and her car was struck in a collision that landed her and several other people in the hospital. She was critically injured in the accident and held on for dear life.
The next morning, she was gone. I received the text at 7:45 a.m. I was in shock and disbelief until I checked my Facebook account. My worst fears were realized.
A neat, first conversation that might have been forgotten in a couple of days ends up being one I will remember the rest of my life.
Strong in her faith and a rock of strength in the Temple dugout, Kimmy was beyond her years and an open ambassador for Christ. One of her texts has been one that the community has been posting with pride over the past several days:
“Just love life. The good. The bad. The indifferent.”
Jayme chose to play on Saturday and his teammates rallied around him. The standing ovation for Jayme was touching and amazing, as it took a budding rivalry between South Grand Prairie and Belton over the past two seasons and turned it into a sign of mutual respect and admiration. In the post game hand shake line, every member of the Warriors hugged Jayme and wished him well.
The balloon ceremony at Baylor once SGP departed and the Tigers’ fans and family were on the field was one of the most powerful experiences I have felt in my life.
May the families and friends of all involved with this tragedy find the strength and will to carry on with life and remember Kimmy as being a champion on the field and in life.
The outpouring of support from Temple and Belton, as well as the smaller communities in Central Texas have poured in. Former Temple teammate and close friend Kaegan Jimenez has organized “Softball For an Angel”, a charity slow pitch softball tournament on May 17-18 at Guthrie Field in Temple for co-ed and all-girls’ teams. The entry fee is $150 and the proceeds go for Kimmy’s expenses. Jiminez can be contacted at (254) 231-1154. The cutoff for registration is this Saturday.
We may be rivals on the diamond, but we are all family in life.