Fambrough: Swim meet honors memory of young man lost way too early

Kelly Richardson started working as a volunteer coach for the Gramercy Swim Team because it made her feel closer to her son.

She had no idea what would happen or perhaps even the full impact that her son, Kadam Williamson, had on swimmers of all ages in the St. James Parish community near Lutcher.

It would be understandable for Richardson or Williamson’s Lutcher High teammates to dissolve in tears, mourning his death in a car accident in November while en route to an LHS swim practice.

Richardson wants her son’s story to be about much more than tears, which is why Saturday’s Kadam Williamson Memorial Championship held in Gramercy was about hope, the future and, of course, swimming.

“When I started coming out here, it was for me to some degree,” Richardson said. “Kadam loved swimming more than anything in the world. He was always in the water. When he wasn’t competing, he was coaching the younger kids.

“I can feel his presence here, and I see his pictures. But as time passed, I had parents and kids telling me what a good coach I was and how I was helping. It’s such a family atmosphere. I feel good about it, and I’m excited to continue on with it.”

Richardson is set to be an assistant coach for the Lutcher High/Lutcher Middle School teams this fall, which would have been her son’s senior season.

Actions speak louder than words for Richardson; her husband, Jacob; and her 12-year-old son, also named Jacob.

Richardson told other mourners not to send flowers when her son died. Instead, she directed them to make donations to Lutcher’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, a group Kadam was actively involved in.

Weeks later, Richardson approached Lutcher High swim coach Lanny Remondet with a bold idea: What about buying a new timing system for the Gramercy pool where the Bulldogs practice?

The Richardsons made that happen, along with the Kadam Williamson Scholarship Fund. Two LHS swimmers, Sadie Poche and Whitney Aucoin, received the first $1,000 scholarships last spring.

“They’re just an amazing family,” Remondet said. “The things they’ve done for this community and for swimming are incredible. People at the meet will be able to see that. We’re going first-class.”

The Richardsons purchased the timing system, which includes a new scoreboard and touchpads. Donations to the Lutcher FCA purchased other items. St. James-based governmental bodies, including the parish school board, are considering a proposal to purchase a solar dome that would make year-round practices possible.

But first there was Saturday’s championship at the Gramercy pool. In addition to Gramercy, the Parkview Oaks, Jefferson Terrace, Waves at Pelican Point and Westminster swim teams closed their summer seasons with the meet, which attracted approximately 200 swimmers ages 6 to 18.

Like his parents, 12-year-old Jacob Richardson also made a bold move. He joined the Gramercy Swim Team this summer for the first time and was scheduled to compete in two events Saturday.

Younger Gramercy swimmers coached by Kadam Williamson did a 200-yard individual medley relay before their portion of Saturday’s meet. His teammates and coaches, including Remondet, did a 500 freestyle relay before the afternoon session.

The 200 IM and 500 freestyle were Williamson’s signature events, the things he was known for as much as his nickname, “Bug.”

Kelly Richardson wanted to honor her son with a signature move that helped others.

Mission accomplished.

Alumni news

Former Christian Life Academy basketball star Langston Galloway and ex-Zachary baseball standout Zack Von Rosenberg made different kinds of professional sports news.

Galloway, who led Saint Joseph’s to the NCAA tournament, was not drafted Thursday night but is scheduled to play for the New York Knicks’ summer league team.

Von Rosenberg, who had been sidelined with a pinched nerve in his pitching elbow, made his season debut Tuesday with the West Virginia Power, a Single-A team for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He allowed one run and four hits in four innings as West Virginia beat Delmarva 6-5 in 14 innings.