‘Seinfeld,” they used to say, was a show about nothing special that – over the course of time – turned out to be very special indeed. One gets something of the same impression listening to Shadle Park baseball coach Ron Brooks talk about senior Kody Anderson, a quiet leader who nonetheless stands out among the Highlanders.
Anderson is one of 10 seniors on this year’s Highlander squad, and while Brooks has a tough time singling out the most noteworthy of them, it’s obvious that Anderson is highly regarded by his coach.
“The team is always first with Kody,” said Brooks, “and he always puts his teammates ahead of himself. It really doesn’t matter to him where he hits or where he plays as long as he’s able to help the team win. I could move him anywhere, and if it would help the team in the big picture, he wouldn’t say a word.”
This veteran group has enjoyed its share of success, and has high hopes entering the 2005 Greater Spokane League season. Two summers ago, all 10 of this year’s seniors were members of the Shadle Junior American Legion team, which finished second in both the state and regional tournaments.
“They learned from that experience that they can count on each other,” Brooks said. “Roles and responsibilities change, but they know that they can compete at a high level. When you go that far, you get used to playing all different kinds of teams and you have to adjust to different pitching and different styles.”
So what makes Anderson stand out from the rest of this veteran group?
“He’s always positive and upbeat,” said his coach, “and while he’s an intense competitor, he’s able to leave it between the lines when the game’s over. He’s a pleasant and caring kid – I think that’s what makes him stand out.
“Kody’s got a unique ability to fit in with all different types of kids and with different personalities. He’s dependable, he’s sincere, and the other guys know that he’ll always be there for them. He never complains, just goes out and plays hard every day.”
Anderson has high expectations for the veteran Highlanders, who rallied late last season to make the district playoffs with a sixth-place GSL finish, then stormed into the regionals. In 2003, Shadle won the regional tournament and went to the Class 4A final four.
“We’ve been playing together for a while,” Anderson said, “and we have a lot of accomplishments. We’re a tight-knit group, best buddies really, and we hang out a lot outside of baseball, which helps us a lot as teammates too.
“Since we have so many seniors, we all have our own role as leaders, and if everyone does his part, we’ll really get rolling. But everybody has to show up ready to play.
“I guess that’s my main role, to get the guys going, help get everybody focused and ready for the games. I’m not much of a talker; I try to lead more by my actions.”
Anderson’s team-first attitude, he says, comes from his dad, Ken, who was the starting centerfielder and a teammate of Ryne Sandberg on the 1978 North Central team, which finished second in state. Eleven players from that team went on to play college or professional baseball.
“I learned from my dad that the team comes first, that you do whatever the team needs you to do to win,” Anderson said. “You have to have a willingness to sacrifice yourself if that’s what it takes to win.”
A two-sport starter (football in addition to baseball) at Shadle, Anderson hopes to extend his career next year, given the opportunity.
Regardless of Anderson’s future, Brooks will remember him not only for his exploits on the field.
“The players see the same things I do in Kody,” said his coach. “He’s a quiet but effective leader. Too often, we take those kind of kids for granted, and we shouldn’t.”
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