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Sports Spotlight: Slade’s competitive nature, coachability lead to state championship in only year doing the high jump

Sports schedule change allows senior to compete in track and field
Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 6:44 PM EDT
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BATH, N.C. (WITN) - Sometimes coach and athlete just click. It happened this spring in Beaufort County. Coach says the athlete makes the coach and the athlete says the coach made her a champion. We feature recent Northside-Pinetown graduate Kat Slade in this week’s Pepsi Sports Spotlight.

“I was kind of the son my dad never had,” says 2021 Northside-Pinetown graduate Kathleen Slade.

For Bath’s Kat Slade a competitive nature...

“I get really mad if I don’t win,” says Slade, “Even if it’s putt putt.”

...started early in her life.

“We showed goats, hogs and lambs, and rabbits, and chickens,” says Slade, “and then I transferred over to the more competitive side of 4H for riding horses. I won the state 4H speed events.”

From barrel racing to the softball diamond and a Babe Ruth team which made the World Series final.

“I was able to go and play with the friends I’ve always played with,” says Slade, “My sister’s age group and everyone in between.”

Softball success continued for Kat at Northside-Pinetown where she played short stop and pitched.

“One of my little secret goals was to get conference player of the year,” says Kat, “I accomplished my little secret goal I never told anyone about so I was excited about that.”

She also was an all-conference player on the Panther’s volleyball team

“We just had a lot of fun with it,” says Slade, “It was a great team to be with.”

But during this spring, softball ended earlier than usual due to COVID-19. Track started late and after being recruited to compete for years...

“Probably one of the best athletes that I have seen,” say Kat’s track and field coach Bob Girani.

Kat found herself in a new form of competition.

“There’s no way you are going to catch me running the 2-mile or anything,” says Kat, “and I’m not fast enough to be running with all those fast girls in the 100 meter.”

Slade quickly learned to do the high jump. Even though she had never done it before senior year.

“She was the most coachable kid that I have ever seen because whatever you told her to do she picked up immediately because she comprehended,” says Girani, “Then she applied it immediately. She made it look easy, as much as she thinks not.”

Kat excelled at it all season and with the state title on the line the competitor kicked in.

“It was me and another girl left. We had both done 4′11′'. She missed her 5 foot jump. She would have beat me because I had more scratches than her. That’s kind of what determines a tie,” says Kat, “So I had to get to 5 foot. I just missed it twice, so I was like really anxious, and Bob was like calm down. I jumped on my 3rd jump and made it over and that’s how I won.”

A state champion, sharing her podium with her coach, both claim the other made it possible.

“In the back of my mind I expected it. I did. But not to the degree that she exhibited it,” Bob says, ”it was unescapable.”

Kat is a new freshman at N.C. State. She says she plans to play intramurals there. She hopes to become a farrier and work out west with horses after school.

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