Softball runs in the family for Kaylee Garner, sophomore pitcher.
Garner grew up in the small town of Danbury, a community known for its baseball and softball. Garner’s grandmother, Carol, pioneered the creation of Danbury’s first softball organization in the early 1970s.
Garner earned All-District honors in softball, basketball and volleyball at Danbury High School. She led the Lady Panthers to the class 2A State Championship in her sophomore year and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
In the same season, Garner’s longtime high school coach, Tim Timmons, began battling leukemia.
Timmons was a renowned pitching coach in the Houston area since 1988. He mentored successful players including ex-Longhorn and current Texas State assistant coach Cat Osterman. Timmons was a close friend of the family and had a strong relationship with Garner outside of softball.
When Danbury played for the state championship, Timmons found a way to support his favorite pupil by attending the game despite being physically and emotionally drained by chemotherapy treatments.
“The cancer was getting to him pretty bad at the time, and he fought the doctors to get there,” Garner said. “Just that moment, getting the MVP award and looking up and seeing my pitching coach up there, was just a huge moment, very emotional, just to know that I did it for him.”
Timmons’ illness became worse in early January 2012, and family and friends realized he did not have much time left. Timmons moved into the Garner family’s guesthouse during his time in hospice care. He only wanted to see one person in the final days of his life.
“Kaylee did a special about him on TV during an all-star game in Florida,” said Steve Garner, Kaylee’s father. “He had seen it and told me to tell her that he would wait for her to get home since he knew he was about to pass. I didn’t tell her the whole way back that he wasn’t doing well, but she just knew anyway. When we got back she went into his room and asked everyone to leave so they could talk, and about 10 minutes later he died.”
Garner’s resolve never faded despite the loss of her longtime mentor. The future Bobcat went on to receive multiple accolades and awards during her high school career. At the same time, she struggled with a back ailment that plagues her to this day. The pain followed her to Texas State and continues to be a hindrance, sidelining her for almost half of this season.
Garner, named to the Sun Belt Conference Academic Honor Roll, pitched 47 innings in her freshman year. Garner could not wait to see what her sophomore year had in store.
That was until another obstacle got in her way.
On Nov. 26, 2014, the day before Thanksgiving, the Garner family received news that Kaylee’s older brother, Wesley, had died in a car accident. Wesley was 28 years old at the time of his death.
“Kaylee and Wesley got along great,” said Diana Garner, Kaylee’s mother. “They definitely had a bond. He was always proud of her, and she was always pushing him. He was a great brother, and she was a great sister to him.”
A loss of someone so close would prove detrimental to the psyche of most people, let alone a sophomore college student.
But Kaylee is not like most players.
“I’m proud of my ability to overcome adversity,” Kaylee said. “It’s been rough, but I’m really proud as I think I should be.”