There are athletes who are colorful and then there’s Kylie Neel, a senior outfielder at Foster (Richmond, Texas) High who only sees one color: red.
Red as in the color that she’ll wear playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette starting in the fall of 2019, as she just signed last week with Gerry Glasco’s softball program (technically it’s the color “vermilion,” but just go with us on this one).
And red as in the natural color of her hair, which as she tells it, has a direct impact on her personality and behavior.
“I’m a redhead,” she says proudly, “and that means I like to work for what I want and we (redheads), we’re crazy, but we’ll do whatever it takes to get what we want. I’m one proud hard-headed redhead!”
What Kylie has wanted for the past seven years has been clear: a scholarship to play softball at Louisiana-Lafayette and to play for Coach Gerry Glasco and, well, she’s a redhead and will do whatever it takes.
Her journey started actually back when she was six years old and started playing softball. Her dad was her Little League coach and she took to softball like… actually like a cat takes to water.
“I fell in love with softball eventually, but I didn’t like it at first--it took a while,” she remembers.
About the same time she realized her hair was red, Kylie says she saw a correlation to her drive to succeed.
“When I was little, I saw that if there’s something in front of me I really want, I’ll get it. I’m a competitor.
Flash forward to the winter of 2011-12; by that point in her life, the Texan knew she wanted to play softball and began going to softball camps to “do my thing to get out there and show what I could do. I wanted to be on the dirt fields.”
She started drawing attention and one of those camps she chose to go as a freshman was at Texas A&M. The camp was run by Gerry Glasco, then an assistant coach and one of the hitting instructors.
Kylie sets the scene: “I was hitting off of him--I’m a tiny little squirt then--and I hit a ball so hard, he dropped his clipboard, walked over to me and said, ‘Yu need to hug your batting coach, because you have a beautiful swing.’”
Interestingly, the natural righty hitter had just switched to the left side shortly before going to the camp and credits her hitting coach, Mark Fobian, for getting noticed back then.
“It was very hard (switching to the left side),” she recalls, “and it took a lot of practice hitting off the tee in the garage. Coach Fobian, he’s now the head coach for my Elite team, I started when I was six-years-old with him and I’ve been with him ever since."
"He’s stuck with me all these years and wanted to stay as my coach until I graduate. Even on Signing night (Wednesday, November 14), it was freezing--32 degrees--and he worked with me in a batting cage he built in his back yard.”
So why did she switch in the first place? Her answer shows that red-head mindset.
“I switched on my own when there weren’t as many lefties just ‘cause I wanted to be different so I did it,” Kylie laughs.
She also credits her trainer Phillip Green for helping her become a better athlete and a better prospect.
“You see the picture of me and Coach Glasco after the camp, I look like a twig. Don’t judge, I’m more muscular now!” she says with a Texan twang.
“But I credit him with where I’ve gotten to today. I drive 45 minutes one-way everyday but Thursday and the weekends to work out with Coach Green at One Fitness and it’s all been worth it.”