Kelsey Anchors differs from her dad in many ways — notably, Kelsey was not a fan of the uniform combinations, senior Mia Tomillo said with a laugh.
The similarities, though, have helped ease the transition for the players after a difficult year coping with the death of the beloved coach.
“There’s still a hint of Dusty Anchors in there,” Kelsey says.
Because of the adversity the Spudders faced last year, they are perhaps uniquely suited to handle the current hiatus from sports with similar grace.
“I definitely think that shaped us a lot,” Gruber said. “We all had to go through a lot last year and keep our heads in the game. It helped us see what’s important and helped us mature a lot.”
The team is extremely tight-knit as a result and still communicate through a group chat on a daily basis as schools are shuttered due to coronavirus concerns.
“Everything we dealt with last year gave us a totally different connection with each other,” said Tomillo, who will be the team’s starting pitcher should the season return. “Having Kelsey, his daughter, is awesome too because she understands what we went through.”
A former collegiate softball player at Oklahoma State, Kelsey Anchors is described as “intense” and “competitive” by her players. Tomillo likened the practices to club training. “It was an adjustment for some girls,” said Tomillo.
But players also describe Anchors as “relatable” and “amazing.”
For both Gruber and Tomillo, it’s their first female head softball coach in their playing careers.
“You just have that different level you can relate on,” Gruber said. “I love having her as a coach.”