Photo by J. Alan Paul Photography
The only place you can find a San Diego Padres fan in the middle of North Dakota is at the hot corner of the diamond at North Dakota State University. No, not inside the confines of Newman Outdoor Stadium; look west and you’ll see the smooth swinging Amanda Grable peppering softballs in every direction within the chain link fences at the Ellig Sports Complex.
Although she doesn’t wear her Padres Pride on her sleeve, due to the team’s lack of winning over the past half-decade, Grable is still proud to claim she’s a lifelong fan and reminisces about going to Padres’ home games at Qualcomm Stadium as a young aspiring ball player.
“My mom used to take us out of school on Thursdays to go see them play,” Grable remembers. “I was at Tony Gwynn’s last game as a Padre; he was a big part of me growing up.”
Grable admits she was heartbroken for weeks after she learned about his death while she was more than a thousand miles away from her hometown of Santee, Calif., located in the middle of San Diego county. Gwynn died while Grable was working at her summer internship for Louisville Slugger.
Grable was one of the 15 college baseball and softball players traveling with Louisville Slugger this past summer, attending softball and baseball tournaments around the country promoting the most-used fast pitch bat. She traveled to Maryland, Colorado, Georgia and Florida this past summer while making it back to Fargo for offseason workouts.
“We were mostly just promoting,” Grable said. “First, it was more of a learning experience about the product so we could explain to people why you should pick our bat over others or why our technology is better or different.”
The Bison cleanup hitter also had the softball success to back up what she was selling. During her junior season, Grable hit the eventual game-winning homerun when the Bison beat Auburn in the NCAA Regionals, hit .323 and led the team with 10 homeruns and 48 runs batted in. The senior is on pace for another career-year this season with a batting average well into the .400s.
Grable will graduate this summer after her internship with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks.
“I picked sports and recreation as my major because I want to be in sports,” Grable said. “I can tell you a lot more about sports than most girls can.”
Grable was always a sports nut growing up, but she wasn’t very sociable. When she first moved to Fargo, she had to move out of her shell she buried herself in during her childhood in California.
“I used to never really talk to people,” Grable said. “But coming to the Midwest I’ve gotten better at it.”
The shift began during her freshman year by interacting with people around NDSU. She points out one particular day when she was walking inside the FargoDome with co-head coach Jamie Trachsel.
“One of the workers started talking to us and I just walked on the other side of Jamie and she started talking, because I was like ‘I don’t know this guy,’” Grable giggled at her past awkwardness. “And she was like, ‘That was rude.’ And I was like, ‘I don’t know him — like he could be a robber I don’t know.’”
After Trachsel assured her Fargo isn’t like California, Grable started opening up to Fargo’s warm and welcoming community.
Now out of her shell, Grable is pursuing her lifelong dream of working in the San Diego Padres marketing or advertising department. But for now, the next step for Grable is graduate school at NDSU.
“I like it here,” Grable said. “I’m open to anything, but I’m definitely excited for another two years because (of) how nice the people are and I can be around the softball team as well.”