At Eisenhower High, in the epicenter of the baseball and softball complex, a circular concession stand serves as a watchtower of sorts.
The view, right by the flag pole, allows fans to take in any two games from the combination of the varsity and junior varsity baseball and softball teams.
And that is where you can find Paul and Nancy Minor on game days.
“Our necks get tired by the end of the day,” Paul said. “Other than that, it’s a pretty special time for us.”
That is the lone setback when your two sons pitch for the varsity baseball team and your daughter is the ace for the softball team.
And when the games are all over, Paul, Nancy, and their three children — senior Bryce sophomore Brynn and freshman Braden — congregate at the family dinner table to discuss, analyze and bounce ideas off of each other.
“It’s just really special,” Brynn said. “Most families don’t have all three of their kids playing varsity at the same time. It’s definitely made us all closer as a family because we can talk about it. Everyone understands how everyone else feels and it just clicks.”
His whole life, Paul Minor has been involved in baseball.
Growing up in California, he played. In college, when he moved to Wichita to attend Newman University, he played. And when he decided to give up playing, he was picked up by the Wichita Wranglers and later the Las Vegas 51’s as a bullpen catcher.
“I don’t feel like I choose baseball, I think it’s the other way around,” Minor said. “Baseball kind of choose me.”
When his family began to expand, Paul took an interest in not only teaching his children the fundamentals but also the mental aspect of the game.
It’s that training that sets them apart, especially Brynn and Braden as underclassmen, from their contemporaries.
“Brynn never gets rattled,” Eisenhower softball coach Charlie Nally said. “She doesn’t get upset. She’s just very consistent about her emotions. That’s what makes her so effective.”
To this day, when one makes a mistake at the plate or on the mound, their father’s words of many years ago play in a loop in their head.
“He always told us, ‘You’re never better than the game,’ ” Bryce said. “He always stressed to us how important it is to do all the little things right and I think that’s what has helped us the most.”
The bathroom separating the rooms of Braden and Brynn can become a war zone during mornings before school.
All three of the Minor siblings are self-admittedly control freaks. If one thing is out of order or not done according to their schedule, bad things — like Braden squirting toothpaste at Brynn — happen.
“If one thing is messed up, then it all gets messed up,” Brynn said. “Like if my younger brother is ready to leave and Bryce isn’t, then they get in an argument. It gets pretty interesting in the mornings.”
That need to control things is also why all three of them pitch, however ironic it may be that their dad was a catcher.
“We all have the mentality that we want things done in a certain way,” Bryce said. “We’re all pushing for excellence whenever we’re on the mound.”
They crave the feeling of the ball in their hand, knowing their every movement dictates the pace of the game. Just like how they all need their certain amount of time in the bathroom each morning, each of the Minors need to have their time on the mound or in the circle.
“You get this rush that I can’t even explain,” Brynn said. “All of this energy just comes over me and I get in this zone. When I’m ready to go, it’s hard to get me out of it. Everything is riding on you.”
The future of the Eisenhower softball and baseball teams rests on the arms of a Minor.
Bryce, who has signed with Barton County, has been crucial in establishing the second-year program and has found his knack as an everyday third baseman that doubles as the team’s top relief pitcher.
But Braden, already the team’s No. 1 starter as a freshman, and Brynn, 9-0 with four shutouts and only one walked batter this season as a sophomore, will be controlling things for the Tigers for a while.
“Winners rise to the occasion and others don’t,” Nally said. “Brynn craves that pressure, and I’m sure her brothers are the same way. They’re winners.”
But their time together is dwindling, as the postseason nears as does the day Bryce leaves for college in Great Bend.
Next season won’t be the same, but the Minors will always be able to fondly look back at this season and remember a spring full of memories.
“When we watch all three of them, it’s hard not to want to stick your chest out when you’re standing there,” Paul said. “It’s just so special. They’re going to remember this for the rest of their lives and so are we.”