BEMIDJI — 2008 Virginia High School graduate and Bemidji State University softball pitcher Courtney Anderson was honored last week after being named to the Beavers’ All-Decade Softball Team.
A standout for the Blue Devils, Anderson played for Bemidji State for four years until her graduation in 2012. She started 80 games for the Beavers and made 101 total appearances. She struck out 439 batters in her college career.
Anderson said Wednesday in a telephone interview that her inclusion to the All-Decade Team was a surprise to her.
“I was really excited and really flattered about the whole thing,” Anderson said. “A lot of the girls that were on that list were really good athletes that I kept my eye on after I graduated. They weren’t my teammates but I knew that they had gone on to perform very well so it was an honor to be listed among them.”
Anderson noted that she was the only player that made the team that played for BSU from 2010-2012, with all other selections coming from 2013 onward.
The selection gave the Virginia native a chance to reflect on her college career, now eight years behind her.
“Looking back now, I miss it a lot. I look at it through a totally different perspective compared to back then. Right after, I missed it a lot. It was really hard to come to terms with being done when the only reason you are done is because you’ve graduated, not because of injury or anything like that.
“But now I have a whole new appreciation for it with awesome memories and amazing teammates. Playing with a team, you experience all the ups and downs together. We played well and we had struggles.”
Anderson says that her time at Bemidji State helped shape her into the person she is today and helped push her on a certain career path when she was finished with schooling.
“If I hadn’t played softball there or worked in their communications department as a student, I wouldn’t have gone to do the work I’ve done now.”
Graduating in 2012 with a degree in design technology with an emphasis in print and digital design, Anderson began an internship in graphic design and photography with the University of Minnesota Athletics marketing department. From there, she landed a job as a creative director for the Gophers before becoming a senior designer for the university.
Recently married, Anderson moved to Crookston last year and took up a graphic design position at a local hospital.
“I wouldn’t have gone on to work with Gopher sports and done all of the things I’ve done if it wasn’t for BSU. I have a whole new appreciation for my team at Bemidji, being almost 30 and an adult. It’s shaped me more than just being an athlete, it’s helped make me a more well-rounded person.”
Looking back on her decision to attend BSU and play college softball, Anderson says she wanted to choose a program where she could immediately make an impact on the team.
“All throughout high school, I was striving to play at the next level. I didn’t know how far I could go but I was really excited to play Division II in Minnesota and in the NSIC conference with a bunch of incredible teams. I knew going to Bemidji I could play right away as a starter and I really loved having that opportunity to make an impact right away and just get to work. To me, that was more appealing than sitting on the bench for two years and maybe play as a junior.”
In addition, Anderson says the city of Bemidji, itself, was a major factor in her decision.
“I loved that it wasn’t too far from home but that it was just far enough. I loved that it was Northern Minnesota where I grew up. It’s like a bigger version of Virginia. I’d live there now if I could. I love that town and that school.”
On her favorite memories from her softball career, Anderson says her team’s shutout of UMD in her senior season was the biggest highlight from all four years.
“Being from the Range, I had close connections to UMD and some of their players. Everybody knows UMD softball is incredible. We played them four times a year and they were always incredible opponents. One of the last times we played them, I pitched a shut out and we got the win in one of my last games as a senior. It was a huge accomplishment for us to get that win from them. It’s absolutely my top highlight.”
When asked if she would do it all over again the exact same way, Anderson said there was no doubt in her mind that she would.
“If I could live in Bemidji and work at BSU, I absolutely would. I just feel a strong connection to that town and community. I’d always suggest it to anyone looking for a place to go to school. It’s just amazing the pride people have for Bemidji and BSU.”
Anderson says she knew she wanted to go there and be the best she could, something she attributes to her parents. She recalled her dad helping her with softball “squatting down and catching for me for hours and hours.”
She also had to give credit to pitching coach Joe Sklasz, who has worked with numerous pitchers on the Iron Range for 40 years.
“Of my 14 years as a pitcher, I worked with Joe for 10 years every single week. When I look back at everything, I wouldn’t have been anywhere without him or my family behind me. I think the all-decade stuff has stirred up how this is all connected for me.”
Looking back at the sport itself, Anderson says she still loves it and says the key to enjoying a sport you love is to not treat it like a job.
“I loved it. I never thought of it as work. My dad would always be calling me after games asking about stats and strikeouts, but I just went out and did the best that I could. I didn’t keep track of any of that stuff. I just worked my butt off to do well and enjoy every moment. As a pitcher, you get the ball every play so I felt it was my obligation to do the best I could for my team and I took that very seriously while still having fun.”