MAYER – Spend any time with Mayer Lutheran’s Anna Karels and Riley Corrigan and you’ll see something right away. They click. They’ve even been given a unique nickname that sums up their friendship perfectly.
“Our moms always call us left brain, right brain,” Karels said. “We truly are. Riley and I will say the same things or we will be thinking of the same things at the same time. We also are always together and doing everything together. Riley and I work well together and see things the same. I think that ever since we were little, we have been that way.”
“We can read each other’s minds,” Corrigan added. “We finish each other’s sentences. Any idea we have, it always turns into something more adventurous when the other says another great idea, fitting into the other. Life is just so much fun being best friends with Anna. Yes, we do share a brain, and it can be creepy at times, but I would not want it any other way.”
Corrigan and Karels have gone to school together since preschool. Although they weren’t the best of friends early on, that quickly changed heading into fourth grade after a simple camping trip.
“Anna and I have been good friends since third grade,” Corrigan said. “In our younger years, we were more of acquaintances. In third grade, I was allowed to bring a friend on a family camping trip and I chose Anna. No reason why, but I sure am glad I did. Before that trip, we were no more than acquaintances, and friends I guess, but after the trip, we became best friends.”
Over the years, the friendship continued to grow between the two of them. What started back in grade school has evolved into a friendship that will last forever according to both of them.
“We are just always together and do everything together,” Karels said. “Growing up there really was no time where I wasn’t with Riley. We have just done so much together and our families have grown so close together that we are all like all one big family. Riley and I are just so similar it’s scary. She is just always there for me and always by my side. I am so thankful to have her as my best friend.”
“My friendship with Anna is indescribable,” Corrigan said. “She just gets me. We have been around each other so much from such a little age, that we grew up together, and faced all of life’s challenges together. We would, and always have, done anything for each other. Going to school together since preschool has provided us with a great base for a forever friendship, one that we continue to grow old with each other. I do not see a time where I want to be out-of-touch with Anna. She is the kind of girl that makes you feel comfortable in the body you are in. Your confidence levels go up, your happiness sky-rockets, and your quality of life is just enhanced. It is just the little things about our friendship that makes it so special.”
While Karels and Corrigan’s friendship had grown over the years, playing softball together has only made it stronger. Karels and Corrigan were a terrific infield-outfield duo for the Crusaders over the years as they knew where each other were and what they were thinking like they always do.
“Playing softball with her over the years has been so great,” Karels said. “We have so many great memories together through softball that I will never forget. During the softball season when she is playing shortstop and I am playing left field, we just work together and I know if she is going to get the ball and she knows that If she misses it I will be right behind her. We just always know exactly where each other will be. It’s like second nature. We just know exactly what each other is going to do.”
“Our friendship translates into softball perfectly,” Corrigan added. “We used to play third base and shortstop, the left side of the field together, which as any baseball or softball athlete would know, the left side of the field has a bond. A special bond. We both clicked and backed each other up as we have in our years of friendship. Playing ball with somebody like my best friend Anna gives me an environment to not be afraid. Softball with Anna has only made our friendship stronger.”
Both Karels and Corrigan were scheduled to suit up for their senior softball season this spring, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they both lost their final season being able to play together.
“When I heard that our season was canceled, it was devastating,” Karels said. “I was looking forward to softball season since last softball season had ended. Softball was a major highlight during high school. I am going to miss playing with all of my teammates. Our softball team was very special and I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else. I am going to miss the girls, our fun Fridays, the bus rides, and the coaches.”
While having their final season taken away in an instant was devastating, Corrigan isn’t going to let that define her or her high school career. While it hurt at first, she’s focused on the lessons and memories she’s learned and made over the years with everyone.
“I was devastated,” Corrigan said. “The times we had together all the years before were just made so much more precious. I would not trade a thing in the world for any of my teammates, even the newbies that came in this year that I practiced with for maybe a week. I still would not trade them. Mayer Lutheran’s softball program is a family – a family you enter the first practice you attend. Sure, this season was taken away from me, but this season has taught me more than any of the others. Do not take anything for granted. Do not be satisfied with having a good on-base percentage. Strive for a good, successful steals, and even home runs. Nothing you do will ever be enough, so you should never feel comfortable where you are at. Never feel comfortable where you are at relationship-wise too. Keep on fighting for who you want to be, what you want to accomplish, and what you want others to remember you by.”
While Corrigan and Karels are done putting on the Mayer Lutheran jersey for good, one thing remains the same – their friendship. Throughout all the highs and lows of their lives, their friendship remains at the top for now, and forever.
“I do think that all of the friendships and memories that I have created will make me stronger,” Karels said. “I will forever hold on to all of the memories and friendships I have made over the years. Playing for Mayer softball since seventh grade, it has brought me so many memories and so many great opportunities that I will never forget.”
“My friendships and memories created through softball will forever make me a stronger person,” Corrigan said. “Anna has always found a place in my high school memories. One of the best memories, that even (coach Kris) Gustin would testament to, would be creating a diving game in the hallway, called ‘The Whale.’ That dumb little game brought us so much happiness in the school. Each practice, we would run up to the coaches after we had worked our way through the hitting stations and ask, ‘Can we go play ‘The Whale?’ They would giggle and say, ‘Sure, just don’t get hurt.’ The reputation and legacy we created at Mayer Lutheran will forever live on, and I can see us in the future having our own softball team, with Anna and I as the coaches. ‘The Whale’ would for sure be incorporated at every practice.”