M.K. Is Okay:
Spain Park Softball Star
Named Girl Athlete of Year
By Lee Davis
It was late spring. The sky was clear and the birds were chirping, but the Spain Park softball team was fighting for its life.
Trailing longtime nemesis Oak Mountain 4-3 in their last at-bat of the Area 8 finals, the Lady Jaguars seemed to be finished. They had the tying run on second base but with two outs already, the odds didn’t look good against a Lady Eagle team that had beaten Spain Park seven times in less than two years.
Then Mary Kathryn Bonamy came to the plate.
“Mary Kathryn hadn’t had a great game,” Lady Jag coach C.J. Hawkins said. “I think she had struck out a couple of times. But there was nobody I’d rather have in that situation than her.”
Then Bonamy had that special Babe Ruth/Michael Jordan moment that makes champions. She slammed a line-drive home run over the fence to give Spain Park a 5-4 win and the area title.
“It was one of those things you don’t forget, but in so many ways it was typical of Mary Kathryn,” Hawkins said. “She never ceases to amaze me. She keeps pushing higher and higher. Mary Kathryn is one of those kids who can change the culture of a program by the way she works and inspires her teammates.”
Bonamy’s heroics helped send the Lady Jaguars to a state tournament berth in Montgomery, where they reached the semifinals and finished the season 49-17. She slammed four home runs during her time in the Capital City. Her best game in the state tournament may have been a 15-1 elimination round victory against archrival Hoover, when Bonamy hit two home runs–including a grand slam–and had six RBIs.
“That’s just the way she is,” Hawkins said. “The more pressure she faces–the higher the stakes–the more she likes it. M.K. enjoys being the one who comes to the plate in those situations.”
Bonamy, a rising senior, is one of those athletes whose presence at times seems larger than life. Almost everyone associated with Spain Park softball has a favorite story about the player they affectionately call “M.K.”
“M.K. really enjoys eating, and often we get the girls together for dinner,” Hawkins said. “After dinner, they will play a board game. Even just playing a simple game, M.K. is so competitive in a way that makes her teammates better.”
Bonamy’s competitiveness and flair for the big play brought its share of rewards. In 2013-14, she earned a place on the All-State team and the All-Over the Mountain team and was named Over the Mountain Softball Player of the Year.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that Bonamy is the Over the Mountain Journal’s choice as the 2013-14 Over the Mountain Girl Athlete of the Year.
Mountain Brook basketball star Patrick Keim was chosen as Over the Mountain Boy Athlete of the Year.
“It’s pretty cool to be named Athlete of the Year when you think about all the great athletes that come from this area,” Bonamy said. “But the most important thing is that it makes a statement about how far Spain Park softball has come. And we’re not satisfied yet.”
An outfielder and pitcher, Bonamy batted a hefty .425 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs. She also had 13 doubles and scored 42 runs. Her eye was as effective as her bat, as Bonamy drew 40 walks from opposing pitchers.
She is also a standout away from softball. Bonamy is an honor student and was named Spain Park Student of the Month last October.
“M.K. is ambitious and wants to excel in everything she undertakes,” Hawkins said.
After having such a successful season, Bonamy couldn’t be blamed for using the summer months for rest and relaxation. Instead, she embarked on a cross-country circuit of travel ball, a journey that saw stops in Florida, Pennsylvania, California, New York and Colorado, among other places.
“I think in California I saw the beach one time,” Bonamy said.
Maybe she didn’t see much of the beach, but she did see a lot of pitches she liked. In trademark fashion, Bonamy recently won a game for her New Jersey Intensity travel team by hitting a walk-off three-run homer.
This week, Bonamy will be playing in the North-South All-Star game in Montgomery.
“I’m glad I’ve got another year at Spain Park,” she said. “Because as far as we’ve come, there are still so many goals we haven’t reached yet. We want to win a state championship, and I want to keep working to get better.”
Mary Kathryn Bonamy may be able to get better, but she’s already really good–good enough to be the 2013-14 Girl Athlete of the Year.
Architect of Victory:
Keim Is Over the Mountain
Boy Athlete of Year
By Lee Davis
As a senior guard for the Mountain Brook boys’ basketball team, Patrick Keim averaged nine points and four assists in 2013-14.
Those numbers are respectable enough, but they don’t come close to telling Keim’s real story.
Another pair of numbers does a much better job of describing what Keim has meant to the Spartan basketball program for the past four years: 111 and two.
The 111 stands for how many games Mountain Brook has won since Keim first put on the green and gold jersey as a freshman. The two represents the fact that the Spartans have won back-to-back Class 6A titles.
And while Keim would be the first to tell you he could be nothing further from a one-man show, in many ways he symbolizes the spirit, work ethic and team-first attitude that took Mountain Brook on its incredible championship ride.
“Patrick Keim has that leadership intangible that is incredibly rare,” said Mountain Brook coach Bucky McMillan, who might retire the trophy as Keim’s biggest fan. “He is the greatest leader I’ve ever been around in organized athletics. Everyone always knew that Patrick had the team’s best interest at heart at all times. In so many ways, he was the glue that held us together.”
That glue was tough enough to bring 111 wins and two state championships to the Spartan program. It was also enough to make Keim the Over the Mountain Journal’s choice for the 2013-14 Over the Mountain Boy Athlete of the Year award.
Spain Park softball standout Mary Kathryn Bonamy was chosen as Over the Mountain Girl Athlete of the Year.
“This is a tremendous honor–and a great note to leave Mountain Brook on,” Keim said. “But just make sure everyone understands that none of this is really about me. With us, any individual awards that anyone received are considered a team accomplishment.”
Keim said Mountain Brook’s two championship runs were different in key ways.
“The first year we got on a roll and just refused to lose when it counted,” he said. “This year there was more pressure because everybody wanted to beat us. But we had the mindset that if we did lose, it wouldn’t be because a team played harder or played more together. We had an unselfish attitude that reached into everything we did.”
McMillan is so enamored of Keim’s leadership skills that he paraphrases one of history’s greatest generals when describing him.
“Alexander the Great said, ‘I am not afraid of an army of lions led by sheep; I’m afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion,”’ McMillan said. “With Patrick, we were an army of lions led by a lion. The bottom line for our success was that we played fearlessly.”
Appropriately, one of McMillan’s favorite memories of Keim has nothing to do with points scored or other flashy individual statistics.
“Before last season, I wanted to put together a highlight tape for Patrick,” McMillan said. “So I asked him which games he wanted me to include. As I put the tape together, I realized a lot of the games Patrick listed were ones where he didn’t score much or maybe he got into foul trouble early. His recollections of his best games were the ones where the team played well.
“It didn’t matter to him whether he scored 24 points or two points–all Patrick cared about was how well the team played.”
Even in games where Keim didn’t score many points, he sank them at the right time. There was no better example of that than in Mountain Brook’s thrilling 60-57 win over Blount in the Class 6A finals in February. Keim scored only nine points in the entire game, but his three-point basket with 1:12 remaining to play gave the Spartans a 54-51 advantage they never relinquished.
“If Patrick needed to take only one shot in a game or a dozen shots, he’d do whatever it took to win,” McMillan said.
The coach said Keim’s leadership skills were evident from the first day he stepped on the Mountain Brook campus.
“During his freshman year, we had a team with some strong senior leadership,” McMillan said. “From the very beginning they respected Patrick and understood his value to the team. His stature increased every year.”
Keim’s basketball career is not complete. He plans to attend Auburn University and play for the Tiger program under new coach Bruce Pearl.
“We’re a big Auburn family, so it’s a natural fit for me,” Keim said. “And the chance to play for Coach Pearl was just too tempting to pass up. I’ve been working hard all summer to get ready.”
Keim plans to major in architecture, which is appropriate. At Mountain Brook, he was the architect of more than 100 wins and two blue trophies. That design structure also made him Over the Mountain Athlete of the Year.