Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Kim Bair Tindall knew when to flip the switch.
One moment, the 1996 Laurel High and 2001 Slippery Rock University graduate had a smile pasted on her face, but once the contest started, gritty determination became her look.
“She was such an intense player, but she always had a smile on her face,” said Terry Watters, who was Tindall’s basketball and track coach at Laurel. “We had a lot of good times, but when it came time to start playing, she got down to it.”
In a perfect world, Watters would have filled her squads with a bunch of athletes just like Tindall.
“She had such a pleasant attitude,” Watters said. “She always had a smile on her face. It was a joy to have her on my teams. You’d wish you could have a dozen kids just like her. She competed hard whether it was in practice or in a game or meet. She wanted to win. No matter what, she came out smiling.”
ENTERING THE HALL
Tindall, 36, will join 11 other inductees on May 4 when they enter the Lawrence County Historical Society Sports Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be held at the New Englander.
“I was really excited,” said Tindall, whose family includes her husband of nine years, D.J., and their two children, Shyan and Bryce. “I never expected it. This definitely was a surprise. I played sports, because I absolutely loved it. It was a passion of mine. When you’re playing sports, you don’t think about any of that stuff.”
Tindall wasn’t a big fan of volleyball when she entered Laurel High School as a freshman and didn’t join the team until the next year.
“I was anti-volleyball until my sophomore year until Patty Wigton kept asking me to come out and play,” the Slippery Rock Township resident said. “She was a substitute teacher at my school. She would ask whenever she saw me until I caved in and played.
“I had never played it and I thought it was really boring to watch, so I didn’t think it would be fun to play. It’s actually a very physical game and it’s very competitive. There’s a lot to learn to be a successful player. It was a challenge, but I ended up loving it.”
She quickly picked up the nuances of the sport and became a first-team all-section selection as a junior and senior.
For her career, Tindall finished with 291 points, 87 aces, 125 kills and 81 digs while playing for Wigton and Greg Dugan.
“I actually surprised myself,” she said. “I picked up all the aspects of the game faster than I thought. Starting to play as a sophomore, I thought I’d be further behind the other girls.”
Oddly enough, Tindall has continued to play as an adult, winning several indoor or sand volleyball tournaments in Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Tindall typically teams up with fellow Laurel graduate Rhonda Kelliher Jones for sand volleyball tournaments.
“It’s the sport that I’ve continued to play, because there’s an opportunity to do so,” she said. “We’ve won a couple tournaments.”
Tindall finished her basketball career with 832 points and 438 rebounds, but etched her name in the record books when she drained 13 straight free throws.
Marisa Wallas eventually broke the record by sinking 14 several years ago. Brooke Dicks drained 15 in a row in January to establish a new school benchmark.
“She was a great shooter,” Watters said. “As a point guard, she took charge. She was a leader.”
Basketball was Tindall’s true passion during her high school days.
“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “I’d be in the gym or at home practicing anytime I could. I was always shooting baskets or practicing dribbling as much as I could. It brought out the competitive side in me, because I was very shy in school. Whenever I got on the court, I was a different person.”
NEVER SAY NEVER
As good as she was in volleyball and basketball, Tindall may have been at her best in track.
She was named the Lady Spartans’ Most Valuable Field Performer as a sophomore, junior and senior.
“I hate running, so I got into jumping,” Tindall said. “My basketball coach was also our track coach, so she expected us to come out. I knew I was winning most of the time, but I wasn’t focused on that.
“I worked hard at it. I ended up messing up my legs, because I was constantly jumping. I was a hard worker, so even though track wasn’t my favorite sport, I still gave 110 percent.”
Tindall stayed with the field events even though she could have experienced success on the track.
“Kim was an all-around athlete,” Watters said. “No matter what you wanted, she’d perform it. She could just about do anything.”
She was able to set a school record in the long jump despite switching take-off legs in the middle of a dual meet.
“We were up in Mercer and it was a nasty meet,” Watters said. “I think it was snowing. She came up to me and said her legs were really hurting. I told her that maybe she should consider switching her take-off leg. She broke the school record by a foot. She was that talented.”
Switching take-off legs can happen without proper preparation, Watters said, but most athletes can’t get past the mental aspect of the change.
“I guess it can happen,” she said. “Kids get so into a routine that they don’t even consider another way is better. People think you’re supposed to take off with your dominant leg. You’re supposed to take off with your strong leg. It worked for her, so we were happy with it.”
The record-breaking jump served as a lesson for Tindall.
“It made me realize that I should never give up and not try something,” she said, noting the jump was 32 feet, 10 inches. When she first suggested it, I was like ‘No way. I’m not comfortable with that. I don’t even want to try it.’ She encouraged me to try it and I eventually did. It ended up feeling more comfortable. I learned to not let my mind control whether I can do something or not.”
TOMORROW: Tom Patton