By Chelsea Royer
Sports have a way of connecting people and building communities. All you have to do these days is look to your left or right and find someone wearing a symbol representing Seahawk team pride. Sports are a conversation starter, an icebreaker, and a way of uniting people. Even those who aren’t die-hard sports fans can appreciate tossing a ball around once in a while, just for the simple fact that it helps build ties with the people around us.
Pat Fink is a man of all sports. Since 1979, he has been playing softball, basketball, and flag football for Aberdeen Parks and Recreation. No matter the time of year, he’s been dedicated to his team and eager to win. Pat would describe himself as a competitive person, which means he always brings his best to whatever game he’s playing.
For Pat, sports are a family thing. He recruited his son, Andrew, to play for the Aberdeen softball team at age 15 and he’s been loyal to the team ever since. Up until joining the community leagues, Andrew played little league, coached by his mom. Pat’s daughter, Candice, played for Grays Harbor College sports teams, leaving none of his family untouched by a passion for sports.
Andrew now lives in Olympia and the love of the game keeps him playing ball, not only in his own town, but also in Aberdeen. Every spring he commutes to Aberdeen to play softball with his dad just like he has since the age of 15. “My son does a great job. He’s one of the best players I’ve ever played with. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my boy,” explains Pat. Baseball has been a large part of their father-son bonding and it still is. There has always been some friendly competition between the two of them, but Pat laughs and says his son learned to beat him a long time ago.
Some of Pat’s greatest memories of playing are from the year he recruited his son and also his son’s friends. Having a mixture of mature players and youthful energy made for some great experiences. Pat says, “I don’t understand why you wouldn’t play!” Which means that without fail, he winds up recruiting friends and family members to play every year.
There are fewer teams now than there were in 1979, which is something that baffles Pat. The community spirit, friendly competition, and new relationships every season are something that’s a huge draw for him. “I just love it. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I just have fun,” says Pat. It’s fun, and it’s competition. The “Clubbers” have traditionally been the “team to beat” and there was always a mission against the team. Aberdeen itself has many community leagues. Pat has played on the Washington Crabs, AW, Superior Auto Body, and once even for the Clubbers themselves. “I like to win,” says Pat with a smile.
Pat’s day job is as a plumbing contractor for Pat’s Double A Plumbing. He had moved out of the Harbor for a short period of time, but when his old boss had an unfortunate accident, it was enough reason for Pat to come back to his old job. The temporary position turned into a business venture for Pat and he’s been plugging along in Grays Harbor ever since. “My roots are here. This place is like a magnet. It draws you back,” Pat says, chuckling.
His community is only growing stronger with every playing season. “I have my basketball friends [and] my baseball friends,” says Pat. “I meet new people every year.” The community atmosphere knits people of every class and strata together over a common hobby. Pat has known people for decades now because of his involvement in sports.
Pat is no spring-chicken, and he’ll tell you that. But meeting Pat, you see a strong, lean fellow who can still throw, bat, and run. Out of all the sports, however, it’s not baseball that’s Pat’s favorite. It’s football. “Unfortunately I started flag football too late in life,” says Pat. “I think that would have been my favorite. I really had a fun time out there the year I played.” Fortunately, the best part of any sport is hanging out with your buddies – and he gets to do that no matter what he plays.
For more information about current rec sports leagues, visit Aberdeen Parks and Recreation.