For the past year, construction crews have been hard at work to open up a competitive field for wheelchair softball. This field of dreams has been 35 years in the making, but now competitors can start enjoying the national pastime closer to home.
"Softball has always been home to me because it's a family type of sport," said Manny Guerra, who began playing wheelchair softball two decades ago. "It brings kids together and it's fun."
Up until now, the closest competitive field where tournaments could be held was in Omaha -- and Guerra's home field was a parking lot.
"Every time, we played in a parking lot," he recalled. "For the last 22 years, you felt there was a piece of equipment missing, and it was the field."
On Thursday, the Todd Anderson Field was dedicated, and that ushers in a new era of wheelchair softball in Minnesota and a wave of emotions for those who have waited for decades.
"For me, words can't describe how I have been feeling throughout the day today," Guerra told FOX 9 News.
The field is the state's first for competitive wheelchair play.
"Before I had this, I always had to watch my brothers play their sports and I couldn't play at all," said 17-year-old Steve Eischens, who competes with the Junior Rolling Twins. "Having this is just awesome."
While many people made the new field possible, the person who was singled out as the biggest contributor is Sharon Van Winkel, who started building the wheelchair softball team 35 years ago and fought for a home field for three decades.
"We never even imagined that we could have our own field," Van Winkel admitted. "We were always imagining, 'Where could we find a parking lot big enough hat no one is going to get run over?'"
Still, Van Winkel lobbied for money and help until a true competitive field that can host tournaments became a reality. Two years ago, the Minnesota Twins beat out 14 other major league teams for a $200,000 grant to give to a charity of the team's choice. They chose the Courage Center and built the field.