MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY — A hole in the Olds Mixed Slo Pitch recreational league as well as the ladies’ league has been left behind in the absence of a pitcher who is described by a teammate as a supportive and positive person that others gravitate toward.
“She definitely brought light to every game, every situation, every tournament,” Candice Bryant, from Olds, said about Brenda Ware, who was found deceased in B.C. last week, prompting a suspicious death investigation that led police to charge Philip Toner, 41, with one count of second degree murder.
“She’s just such a shining light, and it just really is terrible. I mean, it’s always sad when you lose somebody, but she was just one of those people. The world’s going to be a little less happy without her in it,” Bryant told The Albertan.
Although the two had not since the pandemic started been able to connect very much, Bryant said she over the years developed a warm relationship with Ware primarily through playing on a mixed slo-pitch team, Fully Loaded, as well as a ladies’ team known as the Diamond Divas.
“I never saw her mad. The worst I’ve ever seen is her just upset, but never angry — always bubbly and happy,” said Bryant on Friday, May 14 during a phone interview.
Ware was also not only the pitcher for the Diamond Divas, but the team’s heart and soul as well, said Bryant.
“How are we going to play ball without her? Because she brought our whole team together. She was the pitcher, right? So, she’s the centre of the team,” said Bryant, adding that playing without Ware “is going to be sad.”
But Bryant said her husband, Mitch Sanderson, offered some perspective.
“My husband said, ‘She would want you play,’” said Bryant, adding Mitch is also struggling to wrap his head around what happened and will miss Ware’s joie de vivre.
“She was just always ready to have a good time, always ready to just get out there and have fun. Ball was a huge part of her life. She played as much as she possibly could. But it’s going to be hard — there’s definitely a huge hole without her there,” said Bryant.
“It just really sucks because she was a really good person. She always smiled and said hello. If she could see that you were having a bad day, she would always check with you and give you motivation. That’s what I remember most about her — she was just always really encouraging and happy.”
Even in the face of adversity, when the team was struggling to get the upper hand during a tough game, Ware’s unwavering and intoxicating enthusiasm boosted morale.
“In my experience with the team, if the whole team got down, it would always be her to cheer us up,” said Bryant.
“You could tell if she’d be having a hard time if she was having a bad day. But every time one of us was going up to bat, she would still be like, ‘You got this, you can do it!’” she said.
“We would be getting our butts kicked and she would still be cheering us on and encouraging us. I’m really, really going to miss that.”
Ware’s passion for playing ball seems to have been ingrained in her genetic makeup, with her parents, Karla and Don, as well as her brother Derek, heavily involved in the sport.
“They’re pretty much a ball family and everybody knows them. So it’s really sad,” said Bryant.
Ware’s teammates gathered on the evening of Friday, May 14 for an informal, physically distanced celebration of her life.
“I feel like she was such an amazing person that whatever I say, it’s not going to quite capture how sad this is,” Bryant said, describing Ware as the kind person others seek out.
“You’re hoping she’s there,” said Bryant.
“She just had such a happy energy.”