A field for their father
Bret Steck would have loved to teach his sons baseball. They will have to settle for learning on a field bearing their dad’s name.
GOWRIE — Carter Steck stepped up to where home plate will be, bat at the ready, as his little brother, Gabe Steck, took to the outfield. He waited for his mom, Krystal Lloyd, to pitch the ball, eager to round the bases as they practiced for the first game of the season next week on a field dedicated to his dad.
It’s a game Bret Steck would have loved to teach his sons.
The boys were playing on a field dedicated to their father’s memory, almost three years after Bret Steck died in a grain bin accident.
The first official Little League game on the field will be Monday, with Lloyd throwing the first pitch.
Donating money and time to create the field in honor of her husband made perfect sense, Lloyd said.
“Not only do the boys have somewhere to go that’s in Bret’s name,” she said, “but the whole community does. Prairie Valley and Southeast Webster are joined now as Southeast Valley, and everybody knew him. It’s one thing the whole community can use.”
Bret Steck worked for Farmers Co-op in Farnhamville, Lloyd said, and was doing a routine cleanout of a grain bin when the grain collapsed.
“There was grain stuck along the sides of the silo, and he was poking at it to get it to come down and it collapsed,” Lloyd said. “If your head’s not out, at that point it’s pretty much hard for them to get to you, from my understanding.”
That was Aug. 27, 2015, she said.
It was difficult, to say the least.
“Carter had just turned 5. Gabe was 3 at the time,” Lloyd said. “It’s hard to explain to a 5- and 3-year-old.”
The kids used to throw the ball in the yard with their dad, she said.
“He started working with Carter on soccer too,” she said. “But unfortunately missed any sports with both of them.”
Right before the accident, the local Little League had been talking about how it would be good to have a second baseball diamond at Brockett Park where one was already located.
“And the weekend before Bret passed, we had just bought Carter a t-ball and t-ball bat and started working with him,” she said. “I’m on the parks board in Gowrie. I had been looking for something to donate to the parks in Bret’s name. … So it kind of fit. It just hit me, and it was kind of the perfect thing to do.”
Lloyd let the rest of the board know in summer or fall of 2016 that this is what she wanted to do.
Since then, plenty of people have wanted to help.
Some donated money for the Bret Steck Memorial Field.
Many gave their time.
“To start off with, we got extra dirt from both Caseys and Heartland Bank when they moved and rebuilt,” Lloyd said. “That helped out tremendously.”
A friend of Bret Steck’s, who does landscaping, Danny Hanson, got all the needed grass seed donated from Landus Cooperative, she said, and did all the seeding from the batting cage to the corner.
Kenny Streit, Keith Streit and Karl Streit in town all donated time putting up the backstop fence, with members of the park board. Kenny Streit did work on the dugouts, and Keith Streit drug the ag lime that covers the field, she said.
Ag lime is a higher quality covering than you might expect for a Little League field, she said. It’s certainly an improvement from one of the existing fields.
“If you go to our field that’s by the football field over there, it’s rock,” she said. “(This) doesn’t clump as easily either.”
The large metal sign was purchased by the parks board, and Olson Ironworks, of Churdan, donated time to create it.
“I know I’ve missed volunteers. We had so many volunteers helping with anything and everything on it,” Lloyd said.
The field will mostly be for kindergarten and preschool games, she said. The other field will be used for older kids.
“It’s really nice we’re able to use the concession stands for games on both fields too,” she said.
The first game on the new field will be at 7 p.m. Monday. About 6:45 p.m. a dedication will start, with a speech by Security Savings Bank President Brad Lane, who is also a parks board member.
“I’ll be throwing the first two pitches to the boys,” Lloyd said. “Even though it’s Gabe’s team that’s playing, Carter will join for the first couple pitches.”
Getting the whole field together has been a little more work than anyone thought it would be, she said. Finally seeing it all together, it’s difficult to put her emotions into words.
“I’ve been a very emotional person throughout all of this, but seeing it up has been just — I just know how much he’d be smiling about this,” said Lloyd. “He would love it. He was huge in sports.”