BY CHRIS FAULKNOR, PUBLISHER
Lynda Christensen is slated to be inducted into the Michigan Amateur Softball Association Hall of Fame on Jan. 18.
This comes with a myriad of other accomplishments in the world of amateur softball, as well as the Boyne Area community as a whole over the past fifty years.
“Lynda truly deserves her nomination to the Michigan Amateur Softball Hall of Fame, but in my book, Lynda is a First-Team, All-State, MVP for her overall contributions to the quality of life for Northern Michigan citizens,” wrote Tom Neidhamer, retired teacher and coach.
“I was born and raised on a small farm just south of Petoskey,” said Christensen.
“Going to a smaller parochial school, sports for girls was not an option,” she added.
And so, Christensen worked throughout high school on church activities and enjoyed watching the other sports when she could catch a ride.
Christensen graduated from Petoskey Saint Francis High School in 1965.
“Once I graduated, I found softball games offered through the Petoskey Recreation Department and become involved, and that is where it all began,” she wrote.
In late 1970, Christensen (then Lynda Yell) married Bill Christensen and moved to Boyne City, later giving birth to two children (Christopher and Kristie) and adopting one foster child (Gail).
After giving birth to their first son Chris, she soon found that there was no place for the children of the area to play ball.
Hearing about Blooper Ball and Slo-Pitch Softball, Christensen began researching and in 1972 brought Slo-Pitch to Northern Michigan with leagues spreading throughout Charlevoix and Emmet Counties.
“Slo-Pitch was met with opposition, as this form of softball was considered a threat to fast pitch, and it became clear that if we wanted to play ball, we needed to take our balls and find a place to play with them,” she said.
Eventually, after years of bartering, sharing fields, and working together, it became cooperative and they began sharing the what is now the Ed White Softball Field.
Christensen spent time speaking to local schools and bringing younger players in as well.
“I made a tremendous impact on many of the kids,” said Christensen.
“I ended up raising her and bringing her from her very negative world into a very nice young woman who graduated from high school and eventually married and moved on, but she still loves the game of softball.”
Chrisensen was the first Slo-Pitch commissioner for District 14 beginning in 1974, and was a certified umpire.
Christensen played her last organized league ball game in 1987, and moved on to become active in the community as a whole.
“No one has loved the game as much as I and it is because of her that I am able to say that with the utmost respect and admiration,” wrote 2011 Hall of Fame Member Debra Hamlin of Petoskey.
This was further expressed at a September 12, 1978 meeting of the Boyne City Commission when Rotary Park Ball Diamonds A & B were named the Lynda Christensen and Forbes Tompkins fields.
“We appreciate your contributions of time and energies directed towards this project,” wrote then-City Manager Timothy J. Clifton.
In August of 1995, City Manager W. Randolph Frykberg further recognized her accomplishments.
“You have contributed so much it is difficult to explain what you have meant to the kids of all aged through the years,” he wrote.
Christensen is a member of the Boyne Valley Catholic Community, where she has served on the Pastoral Council, even serving as the Director of Religious Education for 6 years.
“Perhaps you get along so well with kids because, like kids, you have never lost your zest for life and your sense of wonder about it,” wrote Fr. Dennis Stillwell as a thank-you in 1995.
“I recall my days in Boyne when you directed the religious education programs for our children at St. Matthews. You not only taught them about God and His church, you taught them how to have fun.”
One of Christensen’s proudest accomplishments was helping to organize the rebuild of the Boyne City High School sports complex in 1996 completely through donated funds and labor.
This estimated half-million dollar project included a new football field, track, baseball field, practice fields, and announcers booth, all with no tax dollars used.
“I think some of Lynda’s biggest attributes are her ability to lead, and have dreams with the ability to go out and attack and fulfill her dreams,” wrote Terra Yell.
“With ‘no’ as a not-acceptable answer, she’s more than willing to help and support the things she started and never leaves things un-done.”
Christensen now serves at the Broker-Owner of Lyndas Real Estate Service, which she has owned since 2000.
In her spare time, she runs a de-facto “lending closet” for medical equipment for those in need, and regularly swaps out canes, crutches, walkers, and other items, along with working to help the Boyne Area Senior Center with many of their fundraising efforts.
Christensen also spends time calling on the elderly and shut-ins, sending out greeting cards, and “monkeying around” in her gorilla costume.
“Today, I continue to follow most all types of sports, especially in our local high school, and it is nice to look back and know that I played a part in putting this all together,” added Christensen.
Christensen enjoys spending time with her grandson Will, who she says as become the biggest and by far the most rewarding “distraction” in her life.
“No matter what I was involved in, no matter what I got credit for, never does anything of this magnitude happen at the hands of one person. This was all accomplished with the help of many people working and playing together and we must never lose sight of those behind the scenes,” she said.