Marshall Anderle began his senior year last August with high hopes.
The Chico wide receiver and defensive back was coming off a strong season and expected to help lead the Dragons into a strong year.
“The year before went good, and I got out there and was doing alright in the first scrimmage,” Anderle said.
But those aspirations appeared to unravel in the Dragons’ second scrimmage against Archer City.
“I was going through the middle and a couple of kids fell on me sideways,” Anderle recalls. “I walked off the field and talked to [the trainer]. I was hoping we could tape it and I could try to go back out.”
That wasn’t to be. It turned out the “wobbly” feeling Anderle had in his right knee was a torn anterior cruciate ligament and medial cruciate ligament.
For most athletes, the diagnosis would mean the end of their year. But for the senior Anderle, the season was far from over.
He returned to the football field just weeks later, contributing in the defensive backfield. He then became an all-district player on the basketball court for a playoff-bound Chico squad. In the spring, Anderle caught nearly every game for the Dragons on the way to becoming the District 9-A Offensive MVP.
Then to cap the year, Anderle captured the bronze medal in the Class A triple jump at the University Interscholastic League Track and Field Championships.
“That says a lot about his character,” said Chico athletic director Stephen Carter. “To go from a torn ACL and MCL to being one of our top basketball players. Then he turned around in baseball and catches and leads the team to the second round of the playoffs. Then to top it all with a trip to Austin.”
Anderle’s character and inspirational will made him the Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year. The first-year award named after former Messenger sports editor and longtime writer will be given annually to a Wise County athlete who displays acts of inspiration, teamwork and sportsmanship.
After he got the results of his MRI last August, Anderle briefly thought his athletic career as a Dragon was over.
“It crossed my mind. But I was hoping it wouldn’t end,” Anderle recalled. “The doctor said I could play on the ACL with a brace after the MCL healed.”
That was all he needed to hear as he immediately turned his thoughts to doing whatever was necessary to get back on the field – not just for him, but for his teammates.
“That’s what it’s all about. I’ve always been taught that it’s not about you but the whole team,” Anderle explained.
“You’ve got to make the sacrifice to get the team where it needs to be.”
Anderle went to rehab twice per week, working to strengthen his hamstrings, quads and other leg muscles to support the injured knee. When he wasn’t working out, he was at the field with his team.
“I was back at practice the first week,” he recalled. “I didn’t want to miss a practice unless I was at Fit-N-Wise.”
With two weeks left in the season, Anderle returned the field, stronger than ever, bringing some veteran experience to the Dragons, along with an emotional lift.
“When Marshall came back the kids were in awe. He tore his ACL and MCL and nine weeks later he was back,” Carter said. “It shows he’s more about team than himself. He could’ve said ‘I’m getting ready for the spring’ and pack it in.”
With Anderle back on the field, the Dragons won their final two games against Blue Ridge and Trenton.
When football season ended, Anderle made the quick transition to basketball. The injured knee did not slow him down as he put on a display, slamming home basketballs before and after practice.
Despite being only 5-10, Anderle played center for the Dragons and held his own in the middle. He averaged 13.4 points, second on the team, and grabbed a team-best 8.1 rebounds on his way to being an 11-A selection. The All-Wise team selection scored as many as 26 points in a game and posted eight double-doubles.
“I’m not a big guy. I feel I helped out,” he said. “We don’t have a true post player and that’s where I had to come in and help out.”
The Dragons took third place in 11-A after a district tiebreaker with Santo. Chico then fell to Valley Mills in bi-district, 63-55, but the loss didn’t spoil the year for Anderle and the Dragons.
“It was a fun year. I enjoyed everything about it,” Anderle said. “[The playoffs] meant everything. We’ve been working hard for two years to get to the playoffs.”
Anderle didn’t slow down after basketball. He immediately headed outside, to the baseball field and track.
The injured knee did not stop Anderle from playing catcher – his position of choice since the second grade.
“It’s pretty fun. You get to see everything,” Anderle said.
He proved to be a wall behind the plate, posting a .959 fielding percentage and handling a young pitching staff that compiled a 3.72 ERA. He also hit .441 with 17 RBIs and 12 extra-base hits to help the Dragons to a second-place finish in 9-A. Along with getting 9-A’s top offensive honor, he was also named Wise County Defensive Player of the Year.
Chico then dispatched Santo in bi-district. In an area round, the Dragons dropped an extra-inning game to Gorman.
While helping the baseball team, Anderle was proving to be one of the area’s top track athletes. He won gold medals in the 800 and triple jump at district. He also advanced to area in the long jump and mile relay.
The triple jump was his specialty and he kept improving all year.
“The first track meet I jumped 40,” he said. “Then the second meet I went 41 and then 42 for the third. I just kept going up and up.”
Anderle claimed the area title with an effort of 44-6.75. He followed that with a runner-up finish at the Class A Region II area meet in Abilene, jumping 45-7.5 on his first attempt.
Immediately after playing his final baseball game, Anderle went to Austin to compete at the state meet for the first time.
On the big stage, he said his legs just weren’t under him. He went through his first five jumps and was in fourth place. With one jump left, Carter talked with him briefly.
“He said he was not feeling it. I told him there was no tomorrow,” Carter recalled.
Anderle responded with his best jump of 44-3, earning the bronze medal.
“It’s what I was working for all year,” he said. “It was crazy standing on the podium.”
Anderle showed anything is possible if you are willing to get back up when delivered a possible knockout.
“If you work hard and do what your coaches tell, you can do anything,” he said. “You’ve got to have natural ability, but working hard definitely helps.”
Denny Deady is not only a beloved member of the Messenger family, but also respected and held in high regard across Wise County.
Her generous spirit, kind heart and sincere interest in people were the basis for her successful newspaper career and remarkable community involvement.
“To say that a person is the ‘heart and soul’ of an organization may seem trite, but without a doubt, for the Wise County Messenger, that honor goes to Denny Deady, who was a part of the staff for more than 30 years,” said publisher Roy Eaton.
Deady, who retired in the fall of 2010 after 33 years with the Messenger, held various positions and played an integral role in making the paper a community cornerstone. She started as a staff reporter, also covering sports, and was eventually named sports editor. She later moved to the ad department, where she served as manager, and she retired as the Messenger’s special projects manager.
“Denny was a great writer and covered many of the newspaper’s biggest stories during her career,” Eaton said. “But to just stop there would not do her justice. Her generosity with her time and talents is legendary.”
Her community involvement was widespread, and as a breast cancer survivor, many of her activities centered on women’s health issues. Her baking, especially her sweet rolls, is legendary, and she has donated dozens to community fundraisers. At one event car dealers James Wood and Karl Klement got in a bidding war for them, and when the hammer fell, the rolls had sold for $4,000 with all the money going to charity.
Denny and her husband, Brian, a retired teacher and football coach, now live in Magnolia to be near their daughter and son-in-law, Guinness and Brent Collins, and grandsons Eoghan and Finn.
The Messenger will now annually honor an athlete from Wise County that best exemplifies the same traits as the Denny Deady Sportsman of the Year.