While Courage Center gears up to introduce the first Minnesota wheelchair-accessible softball field at Northwoods Park in Brooklyn Park on August 9, I have been digging deep to find out more about the field and grand opening that might interest you. This week, I clarified a few things.
- Todd Anderson, whom the field was named after, was a wheelchair athlete for Courage Center, playing both basketball and softball. Anderson was an eight-time MVP winner at the National Wheelchair Softball Tournament. After he became a prosthesis maker, Anderson was elected Vice President of Otto Bock. Anderson was an exceptional athlete who passed away nearly two years ago at age 50. (Source: Courage Center)
- According to two sources, former Twin Michael Cuddyer will not be able to attend the event August 9. Cuddyer and the Colorado Rockies will be playing on the West coast that day. Twins personnel who will be attending the opening of the field include Twins President Dave St. Peter, Public Affairs Executive Director Kevin Smith, Director of Community Relations Bryan Donaldson, and former catcher Tim Laudner. A fun note: While Courage members were participating in the National Junior Disability Championships in Mesa, Arizona this week, Cuddyer invited them to come chat and take pictures with him after a baseball game at Chase Field. Courage Center athletes reached out to Cuddyer through Twitter.
- Starting in 2013, Todd Anderson Field will feature a “Walk Of Honor.” This great addition will pay tribute to past and current teams. Many teams in the Twin Cities have won national championships (Rolling Gophers, Rolling Thunder, Rolling Saints, Rolling Twins.) Sharon Van Winkel, Director of Sports and Recreation at Courage Center, says: “Many Minnesota athletes have been named MVP or inducted into the Hall of Fame.” When Courage receives more funding, they will install the “Walk Of Honor” on the sidewalk along the third baseline.
- Mark Braun, a member of the Junior Rolling Twins, gave me some background of the construction of the field. Braun, who has Spina Bifida and participates in multiple wheelchair sports, told me: “I was at the announcement event at the Courage Center when we all heard that we won by more than 30,000 votes. This gave us a check from Pepsi to build the field. Then the next problem came up – we needed an additional $370,000 to build the field and where was that going to come from? Many organizations pitched in to help, the Otto Bock Company, the Twins, and many other local contributors helped to make the field a reality.” Braun went on to say, “We watched the bulldozers move the earth, we watched the asphalt be laid, and we watched the poles and fencing be put up. The score board still [needs] to go up and soon we will be able to play on the field. Just in time for the National Tournament which is scheduled to be August 3 and 4.” Braun was the leader of the Jr. Rolling Twins team, so he had multiple opportunities to appear with Cuddyer last year at fundraising events for the field.
Written by: Michael L. Sack