Like the stories of many athletes that are successful, the story of Kara Gremillion starts back when she was 5 years old. Well, according to Gremillion, it might have started back maybe even before she was born.

“My mom and my aunts played softball in college, and all my aunts and cousins always played all kinds of sports, so I grew up at the ballpark,” she said. “I guess it was in my blood. I was meant to play softball.”

Just in case you haven’t kept up with her accomplishments in high school athletics, here’s the list. As a freshman in softball, Gremillion was awarded first team All-District, first team All-Metro and second team All-South Region honors. In her sophomore year in softball, Gremillion was named to the All-District team, first team All-Metro, first team All-State Coaches Association, first team All-State Sports Writers Association and first team All-South Region. In her first year playing volleyball, Gremillion was named to the first team All-District as well.

The list goes on. In her junior year, Gremillion added basketball to her repertoire, where she earned first team All-District and first team All-Metro honors then added first team All-District, first team All-Metro and first team All-State Coaches Association in volleyball. In softball: first team All-District, first team All-Metro, first team All-State Coaches Association, Athlete of the Year, Metro and District MVP.

As a senior, the list keeps growing; in basketball, she earned first team All-District, first team All-Metro and District MVP; in volleyball, she earned first team All-District, first team All-Metro, All-State Coaches Association and district MVP. Softball accolades were first team All-District, first team All-Metro, first team All-State Coaches Association, MVP for District and Metro, Athlete of the Year along with the Gatorade Softball Player of the Year for Louisiana.

So just what makes a person like Gremillion tick? Why does she excel in what she does? Her athletic abilities are quite apparent, but is there more to this story? I enlisted the help of the three high school coaches that Gremillion played for to help us see behind the scenes.

I had a hunch that there would be some consistency in what the coaches had to say, but I certainly didn’t have any idea it would be like this. Her volleyball coach Allison Leake said, “Kara is a phenomenal person that is very helpful to others. One of the things that stood out to me that makes her special as a person is that we have a privilege on our team for seniors; they don’t have to set up the net anymore, but as a senior, Kara was the first person headed out to set up the net. Kara is such a great person that her athletic abilities are only an extension of her as a person.”

St. Amant girls basketball coach Kristy Englade says it like this: “Kara Gremillion is one of those kids you always dreamed of coaching. She’s the most coachable kid I’ve ever coached in my 13 years in my career as a head coach. But she is truly a great kid off the court as well as on the court.”

Head softball coach Scott Nielson praised Gremillion as a “great kid from a great family. She’s a rock star, but nobody would know that by the way she handles her day-to-day stuff. She was the first to set up the batting cage, first to pick up after the end of practice, sweep up the dugout or empty the trash cans. That’s the kind of stuff that can’t be taught.”

Her leadership abilities stood out to all three coaches as well. Gremillion is a little on the quiet side, so leading by example is her greatest asset. As she progressed in her career, she became a little more vocal. Neilson put it in perspective as he spoke to his younger players.

“You may never have an opportunity to play with a person of this caliber ever again, so when she opens her mouth, you better be listening,” Nielson said.

Her instincts were another common thread.

“Kara not only knows the perspective of how to play the game as a player but she can see it from the coach’s perspective as well. She is very observant and sees things that are going on around her, and she is mature beyond her years,” Leake said.

“Her instincts are above and beyond anyone else I’ve coached,” Englade added. “I coached a kid at Mandeville that ended up playing on a Division I college team, and she didn’t have near the instincts that Kara has.”

Consistency was another character trait that was passed around.

“Kara would show up every day and give it 100 percent. She gave everything she had every single day,” Nielson said.

That trait is evident in every part of her life. Gremillion graduated with a 4.31 grade-point average and 23rd in her class.

The thrill of competition, the desire to do her best and the drive to win are some of the things that motivate Gremillion.

Englade used an analogy: “Competition drives Kara. If she’s playing marbles against you, she’s trying to win all your marbles.”

The drive to compete is apparent in other areas of her life. “Heck, even when we fold clothes at home, I’m going to be the one who folds the most clothes,” Gremillion said while laughing.

There are a lot of athletes that make it big because of their physical abilities but suffer in other parts of their lives. There are others that have a fruitful life that just adds to their abilities in the sports arena. It’s sort of like a breath of fresh air or maybe a glass of Louisiana sweet tea that makes it extra special. Gremillion is an extra special person.

Lyle Johnson covers sports for The Ascension Advocate. He can be contacted at reelman@eatel.net or ascension@theadvocate.com.