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BERRY TRAMEL: A mother who pushed her son to excel

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 10, 2009 at 12:18 am •  Published: May 10, 2009
Sandra was a ballplayer herself, a softball pitcher of some renown at Kearney State in Nebraska, so she wasn’t afraid to tell her boy how to play ball himself.

"One of the most competitive people I’ve ever been around,” the now-grown boy said. "She kind of had high expectations. She wasn’t afraid to tell me if she thought I should have played harder or played better.”

Sandra’s husband coached a little, too, but you know the price coaches pay. They spend a lot of time on fields and courts with other people’s kids, at the expense of their own.

So Sandra took the boy to practices and games and delivered the do-better talks.

"There was an expectation that you play at a certain level and with a certain level of effort,” said her husband. "If he didn’t, she wasn’t afraid to tell him.”

It was bad cop/good cop, only with a gender twist.

"I was way more scared of her,” the boy said. "She’s a pretty intimidating lady.”

That will come as a surprise even to those who know Sandra well. She is reserved. Behind the scenes. She often sat down the right-field line when her boy played in high school.

The boy, aside from those postgame drives home, calls his mom "really sweet and caring. I don’t know if she would ever admit that. But she was a great influence, a great person to have around your house.”

Sandra grew up in Sioux Falls, S.D., the daughter of a big-time football and basketball referee in the Midwest, so she was drawn to athletics and keeping quiet in the stands.

She went to Kearney State, met a ballplayer and come July they will have been married 24 years.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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