Life threw Kelsey Anderson a curve on April 6, 2003. That was the date her daughter, Karlie, was born. What made the experience traumatic was the fact Anderson was a Brainerd High School junior at the time. How would she pay the medical bills? Wh...
Life threw Kelsey Anderson a curve on April 6, 2003.
That was the date her daughter, Karlie, was born.
What made the experience traumatic was the fact Anderson was a Brainerd High School junior at the time.
How would she pay the medical bills? Who would care for her daughter when she couldn't be home? Would she finish high school? When would she find time to study? What would the future bring?
Thanks to a tremendous support system, which includes friends and relatives, Anderson has transformed a life-altering ordeal into a situation that is as favorable as can be.
Brainerd Warriors right fielder Kelsey Anderson held her daughter, Karlie, as teammates prepared for practice. Kelsey is one of the captains of the softball team. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood
That situation also has enabled her to resume the pursuit of one of her passions -- playing softball.
Anderson, now a 17-year-old senior at BHS, has returned to the softball diamond this spring, starting in right field for the Warriors. She's one of the team captains and has helped Brainerd to a 6-2 start.
"I'm proud of her for coming back out this year," junior teammate Hilary Smith said. "She loves softball. ... We like having her around. She's a fun person, a good softball player."
Anderson is grateful for inquisitive teammates who understand what she has endured and who also are happy to have her back.
"Sometimes they ask me questions about (Karlie)," Anderson said. "That doesn't bother me at all. I like it when they ask questions. Other than that, they see me as no different than any other player."
Anderson said her return to the field was made easier because she played slow-pitch softball last summer.
"But lately it's been hard because I get Karlie at her crabby times, when she just wakes up and when she's going to bed," Anderson said. "Actually, it's been pretty easy (to come back). Everyone is supportive. They understand what's going on."
Grandparents Jim and Sue Anderson and Roger and Tarilyn Avery understand. They've been the primary day-care providers for Karlie while Kelsey finishes high school and plays softball.
"I live with my parents," Kelsey said. "They've had to put up with a lot. Pretty much our whole house had to be baby-proofed. My mom had to move everything. They probably took it the hardest, all this change. And, (the Averys) have been there. They baby-sit whenever they can. They spoil her."
Kelsey's father, Jim, said with the support of friends and family the Andersons have endured.
"Kelsey has done a great job," he said. "It's been tiring for her. She's had some tough nights, but she's made it."
Are Kelsey's parents proud of their daughter?
"Absolutely," Jim Anderson said, "and (the Averys) have been a big help with this. They've been absolutely super with us. They usually get (Karlie) on game nights so we can come watch Kelsey."
After Karlie's birth last spring, Kelsey remained with the team as its student manager.
"I came to a lot of the (home) games," Kelsey said. "I tried to come as much as I could."
Anderson attended the Alternative Education Center in the second semester of her junior year and rejoined her class at BHS this fall. Warriors coach Mike Zauhar said Anderson has kept up in the classroom and the team has welcomed her back this spring.
"Teachers (at AEC) speak highly of her," Zauhar said. "She rejoined her class this year and didn't miss a step. There are times she can't make it because she can't find a baby sitter, but we're certainly flexible.
"Kelsey is a great person to have on the team. She's always upbeat. She brings something different to the table than our other captains.
"She never complains. She's playing well for us. She's very consistent defensively in right field. She's struggling a little right now with batting but she gets the bat on the ball and is getting quality at bats. She had a rough Detroit Lakes tournament but we expect her to bounce back from that."
Anderson has bounced back to envision a promising future. She plans to attend Central Lakes College in Brainerd and become a medical secretary. At Monday's all-sports banquet she received a $350 scholarship to attend CLC.
"I think it's made me a little more mature, a little bit more responsible," Kelsey said of her experience.
It also has made her the parent of a beautiful little girl.