Athletics and opportunities can be strange bedfellows because sometimes what happens is a player or a coach or both enjoys their surroundings to a point they don't want to leave come hell or high water.

Friendships are made. Connections are established. The next thing an individual knows they simply couldn't see themself being anywhere else in life, nor would they want to. That's when responsibility comes flying in and delivers a swift dose of reality where it hurts the most and all that happiness comes crashing down in the blink of an eye. All of the sudden everything you've worked so incredibly hard for, all those relationships you spent so much time trying to create, it all comes crashing down.

For North Callaway varsity softball coach Brandi Thomsen and her family, that's pretty much what happened when North Callaway Superintendent Dr. Bryan Thomsen announced they'd be leaving at the end of the school year because he's accepted another job..

"My husband was offered the superintendent position at Oak Grove on the first of January. After much discussion and contemplation, we made a decision as a family to move," said Brandi Thomsen. "This was a hard decision as we have loved our time here in North Callaway, but it is also exciting as we will be closer to family with the move. My dad lives in Oak Grove and my youngest son, who will be in first grade, is already planning on Grandpa coming to eat lunch with him."

Other family members in the Oak Grove area for Brandi Thomsen include her mother, grandmother, nieces and sister in Belton, which is about 35 minutes away. Dr. Thomsen also has family in Lawrence, KS. and that's about an hour away and that will allow their children to have family in their lives as they grow up just as both their parents did.

"I’d have to say that leaving my players is the absolute hardest part of this decision. I love and care about them like they're my own and I’ve shed a lot of tears because it hurts to leave them," Brandi Thomsen said."I feel like my staff, my players and I have built a solid program. I'm very proud of that. I'm even more proud of all the great kids that've come through the program. Each one of them has a special place in my heart. As for the future of North Callaway softball, I feel the groundwork is solid."

In 2017-18, the North Callaway varsity softball team ended the season with a record of 20-6 overall, 10-0 Eastern Missouri Conference. This includes losing to Palmyra 7-1 in the Missouri State High School Athletic Association championship tournament to end the year.

"I've loved being a T-bird. This community has provided our softball program wonderful support throughout my time here," Brandi Thomsen said. "We've seen success and I've had so many great players. I feel so fortunate to have had this time with these young ladies and the people around the Thunderbird Proud community. I've always had support and encouragement from my administration and can't thank each of them enough. I've been blessed to work with some great coaches."

Also leaving North Callaway with this move will be junior Harper Thomsen and her .258 batting average on 17 hits in 66 at bats this season. She also racked up 17 runs, 10 hits, four doubles and a homerun this year for the Ladybird's softball team.

"The returning players are strong and will do well. I wish them all the best and know what they are capable of if they set their minds to it," said Brandi Thomsen. "I hope that the friendship we have forged will continue after I leave."

Another individual who'll no longer be wearing North Callaway's green and white once this school year has concluded is sophomore Tully Thomsen, and even though his current varsity basketball numbers are somewhat skewed because of an injury, his football numbers are just fine. In 13 games this season Tully completed 62-of-106 passes for 1,211 yards and 19 touchdowns with eight interceptions to lead his team to a record of 11-2 overall, 7-0 EMO.

"I have so many wonderful memories here at North Callaway, both in the classroom and on the field. My students, players and colleagues have made my life better in so many ways," Brandi Thomsen said. " I am very thankful for all of them. As for a stand out softball memory, it is hard to pick just one from the many I have been a part of; however, from a program and personal perspective I guess I would have to say this season when we beat Centralia to win the District title is a memory that I will never forget."