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The Many Lives of Kindle

Posted 02/28/2023 by Kira Kennedy

Kindle and her JV basketball team posing for a photo at her final game as a coach. photo by Damian Allen

Kathryn Kindle retires after 40 years of coaching at TJ.

When talking about the Lady Spartan basketball program, one can’t help but bring up Kathryn Kindle, known as “Coach K” to her players and most people in the TJ community. Kindle has been at TJ for nearly 40 years coaching, teaching, and changing her players’ and students’ lives for the better. She is currently enjoying her final year at TJ.

Kindle came to TJ in 1985 from Montebello High School, where she teached for five years, to teach history and coach track and basketball. Although she only coaches basketball now, the entire TJ community will miss her presence. In retirement she hopes to see more of her grandson’s basketball games and focus much of her attention to watching him grow. Kindle commented “I really don’t want it to be my last year, but I think it is time.” Goodbyes are always bittersweet and this goodbye is no different. To help make Kindle’s goodbye special, Damian Allen, the head coach of the girls’ basketball program, set up a day to celebrate Kindle and for the girls basketball program to say goodbye. On February 4, Allen made shirts that the entire girls basketball program wore that said  “We love coach K.” The event took place during halftime of the girls varsity game, and it was a huge success; past students and players from all over came to the game to help celebrate Kindle’s coaching career. It was an extremely heartwarming moment and Kindle was filled with emotions.

Allen has been coaching with Kindle for the past eleven years now and would describe her as a generous person, “she just loves to give,” Allen commented. Kindle never puts herself first and that is what makes her such a good person, coach, and teacher. She may not go easy on her players and likes to push them to their best, but said best by sophomore Sophia Shon, “Her coaching style is hard, but a good type of hard.”

When Kindle was teaching, she dealt with a lot of students who the other teachers might have given up on, but Kindle never gave up. Every kid that came into her class came out better for it. Her players describe her as tenacious, and that is exactly what she is, “I think I can save everybody, that’s just the way I am, I guess,” Kindle commented. Although she has high standards for all her students and players, she also knows how to have fun. Kindle loves to joke with her players and even gives dating advice, which always makes for a good laugh.

Kindle grew up with six sisters in Arkansas, where she graduated from high school and went to the University of Arkansas. There, Kindle met her first husband in 1960, and they had seven kids: two daughters and five sons. When Kindle was first pregnant, she was still in college but she was insistent on getting her degree. “The doctor said I couldn’t climb the stairs, so I made sure all my classes were on the first floor…I wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”

Kindle’s third oldest son died at the age of five from a tumor that was in the main valve of his heart. Kindle and her family then moved to Chicago for two years, where she worked as a social worker. They then moved back to Arkansas where she got her teaching degree, soon after Kindle and her kids moved to Colorado for her youngest son, Tyrone, who needed better medical treatment for sickle cell, a disease that blocks blood flow to organs. Tyrone later graduated from Montbello, but he sadly died because of kidney failure at the age of 23. Kindle threw herself into her work to help deal with her grief. “When I’m not busy I get to thinking about them,” talking about her two sons that have passed, “but I try to think of the good memories,” Kindle explained. Her five living kids have all graduated from high school and college, and a couple even own their own businesses. Kindle commented “I’m proud of them all and how far they have come.” Kindle met her second and current husband, Jonah Hughes, in Anguilla, a small island in the British West Indies. She first met him when she visited and she later moved out there where she lived and owned a beach wear shop for three years. Kindle and Hughes moved back to Colorado in 2008 and continue to reside here.  Kindle has lived many lives in her 82 years, and she’s ready to see what her retirement life will bring next.