West Fargo youth baseball team dedicates season to coach who died of brain cancer
In farm towns and neighborhood parks in the metro, a new crop of short-stops and stellar baserunners is being born.
WEST FARGO — Baseball and summer go hand in hand, but in West Fargo, the season has more meaning than ever before.
Losing a coach when you are just 9 years old is hard to process, but for the next few months, the PK Construction Incorporated team is making it all about him.
On a field tucked in a neighborhood called Meadowridge Park, there was a chance to see what's perfect about the imperfect.
"Second line, back up five feet," Coach Patrick Loree said to his players during warm-ups.
Loree is trying to wrangle third graders into a cool May night practice. They are all at that age. Easily distracted, with caps a little too big, and gloves that kind of fit. But they have an enthusiasm for life we all can learn from.
"Be accurate, or we will go right back down to sitting on our butts," he shouted to his players.
But this season is different.
"They were profoundly affected, obviously," Loree said.
Travis Anderson, who played Fargo Legion ball, pitched at Concordia and coached these kids last year, died of brain cancer just over a month ago. The father of three was just 41.
"Travis' whole life was baseball and hockey and kids," said Donna Anderson, Travis Anderson's wife.
To honor their coach, it was the team, kids just nine years old, who decided the Plecity-Kowalski baseball team of West Fargo would dedicate its season to Coach Travis.
"For them to say 'this is bigger than baseball' was huge to us," Loree said. "Because they understand it. So often it is just a game, but it is more than a game now."
They even had patches made.
"It's sad, special and therapy all at the same time, and I know Travis is watching down," Donna Anderson said.
One of the team's star players is nine-year-old Andrew Anderson, Travis Anderson's son.
"I got three strikeouts on my first game of 2022, so I was really happy about that," Andrew said.
"My dad was a pitcher, and I want to be just like him, so I am kind of following in the tradition," Andrew said.
A kid with a heart of gold, a love for the game and someone who dreams of playing ball for years. And how does he feel about dedicating this season to his dad?
"It's just a great way to show how we appreciated him when he was coaching us, and he was such a great coach and I wish we had him. (He was a) very great dad," he said.
Andrew's two little brothers watch — they can't wait to put the barrel to the ball. This season, their brother and his team remember a coach who has passed on life lessons, and a love for the game to these all stars.