With most of the student body packed into the Northwood gym, Lady Falcons catcher Kaitlyn Williams was recognized Monday for her high school achievements by USA Today and the Army National Guard.
She became one of just 13 honorees nationwide for “The Inspiration” award, presented to student-athletes who have overcome odds to excel on the field and in the classroom.
A Times article last spring, entitled “From Russia with love,” chronicled Williams’ adoption from Russia as a 2-year-old, her abilities on the softball diamond and her success as an honor student. That story was forwarded to USA Today, a sister newspaper of The Times, and Williams’ efforts made her an easy selection for the prestigious award.
“When educators choose education, it’s because of kids like Kaitlyn,” Northwood principal Darlene Simons said at the assembly. “I have been blessed to get to know her over the past couple of years. I challenge each of you to do what Kaitlyn has done during her tenure here at Northwood. She has taken what abilities and gifts have been given to her, and she’s used it to better all those she’s come in contact with.”
Northwood softball coach Greg Swearengin read a list of accomplishments by Williams, who helped make his team a playoff participant. As a catcher, she earned a spot on the 2012 Times All-City team when she hit .431, while leading Northwood to Sulphur for the state softball tournament. She recently signed scholarship papers to play softball at Bossier Parish Community College next year.
At Northwood, she carries a 3.75 grade point average and is active in the National Honor Society, student council and the Fellowship of Christian. Williams is also involved with the Circle of Hope, an organization that works with special needs youngsters through the Arc, and the Special Olympics.
“Kaitlyn is a very special young lady who has done many great things here at Northwood,” Swearengin said. “If you have not met Kaitlyn, she has never met a stranger, and you have about three weeks to get to know her before she graduates.”
National Guard spokesman Sgt. Todd Derrick said student-athletes are known for their leadership ability and Williams embodies a number of qualities admired by the Guard.
“We’re here today to recognize one of the leaders,” Derrick said. “Throughout the year, we tour the country and honor the country’s most inspirational high school athletes, and we come across far too many inspirational stories to describe them all here. Many of them demonstrate just how inspirational high school sports can be. Many capture what the National Guard looks for.”
Williams had to overcome physical challenges, due to her time in the orphanage, to become an athlete of note. The following is an excerpt from previous story in The Times.
“Initially, doctors told Julie that Kaitlyn would never walk well because of her lack of care in Russia. She had suffered from scurvy and had flat feet to boot. But shoes with arches and an introduction to competitive sports helped bring the youngster out of her physical shell.
“Kaitlyn was diagnosed with Orphanage Delay Syndrome and she wasn’t very coordinated to begin with,” her mother, Julie, said. “But she began playing Tumble Bears, CABOOSA soccer, t-ball and Biddy Ball basketball.'”
The 2012 story on Williams, along with a video, can be found at shreveporttimes.com.