Prayers for ‘Goody’

Former coaches react to tragic news of injury to UND dual-sport alum in Las Vegas shooting

Andrew Gudmunson

UND alumnus and former baseball player Andrew Gudmunson, 30, reportedly was one of 500-plus people who were seriously wounded late Sunday night by a lone gunman, who assailed country music concertgoers with a shower of bullets from high above in the Mandalay Bay Casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Kelvin Ziegler’s not into social media.

Kelvin Ziegler

Former UND Baseball Coach Kelvin Ziegler

But something happened overnight Sunday that had him scrounging for as much news as possible from friends who are.

Andrew Gudmunson, a longtime family friend and a “kid” Ziegler had once watched dominate on the youth baseball diamonds in their native Minot, N.D., and whom Ziegler eventually recruited to play ball at UND, was suddenly part of the  horrific news headlines coming out of Las Vegas.

Gudmunson, 30, reportedly was one of 500-plus people who were seriously wounded late Sunday by a lone gunman, who assailed country music concertgoers with a shower of bullets from high above in the Mandalay Bay Casino on the Vegas Strip. At least 58 others were killed in the attack.

Gudmunson, who works as a real estate agent for Century 21 in Minot, also played a year at quarterback at UND under former head football coach Dale Lennon.

“It’s just a terrible tragedy,” said Ziegler, who’s considered UND’s winningest baseball coach at the DII level and today serves as manager of event services at Ralph Engelstad Arena, Inc. “Having seen him grow up and play in Minot, Andrew’s always been near and dear to my heart. And having kids of my own, I just can’t imagine what a family goes through in this situation — just a completely unfortunate action by a crazy person.  I just don’t know how else to put it.”

Going places

Brian DeVillers

Brian DeVillers

Not wanting to add to the stress that the Gudmunson family is under, Ziegler relied on others, such as old friends in Minot, to keep him in the loop on Andrew’s condition.

He’s also kept in close contact with former UND baseballer and assistant coach Brian DeVillers, who was tracking things on social media and elsewhere Monday.

“I found out early this morning on Facebook, and then called around to some guys and dug in depth a bit more,” DeVillers said. “A lot of times you take things for granted, but when it’s somebody you know that’s involved, it definitely shines a larger light on it, and maybe opens your eyes to some things you weren’t fully cognizant of prior.”

DeVillers, who helped coach Gudmunson at UND from 2007-2010, said coaches and teammates referred to him as “Goody.”

“Sheldon and JoAnn, his parents, did a great job with him,” DeVillers said. “He’s driven and he’s going places in life. He’ll pull through it, and he’ll be better off than he was prior, because of the work ethic that he has.”

Good impressions

Brian Faison, UND athletic director, confirmed via Twitter early Monday morning that Gudmunson was injured in the shooting.

“We’re told he is out of surgery, stable and conscious, but more surgery ahead,” Faision tweeted. “Please keep Andrew and his family in your thoughts.”

Friends and family of Gudmunson’s have taken to social media, posting the hashtag #GoodyStrong in support of Gudmunson.

Ziegler said UND was fortunate to get a student-athlete of Gudmunson’s caliber. With a long, lean 6-4 frame and athletic tools to match, he committed early to DI University of Nebraska out of high school, but Ziegler kept in touch with the hometown kid.

“Even if you don’t get someone the first time around, you always want to make a good first impression in case there’s ever a second chance,” Ziegler said.

The philosophy paid off as Gudmunson eventually left Nebraska for Ziegler’s club at UND.

“He wanted to be closer to home and we had built a good enough relationship, and being from the same hometown, there was a comfort level that made for a good connection,” Ziegler said.

Bound and determined

Jeff Dodson

Former UND Baseball Coach Jeff Dodson

Ziegler said he worked out a plan with Coach Lennon so that Gudmunson could practice and play football in the fall (missing fall baseball workouts) and play baseball in the spring (missing spring football practices). But that kind of schedule took its toll on Gudmunson after a while.

“When he came here, initially, he was going to be a dual athlete but ultimately he just decided that baseball was where his heart was and where he could make an impact.”

After Ziegler decided to hang up his coaching duds and move to private sector events management, Jeff Dodson took over the UND Baseball program, coaching Gudmunson for two years.

“He seemed to be the guy who would always come up in the clutch for you,” Dodson recalled of Gudmunson’s playing days.

Dodson continued, “He also has a great ability to connect with people. He’s a very personable young man. He was a very popular kid, not only in athletics and with our team, but with the University as well.”

A couple hours after Dodson first heard about the Las Vegas shooting through the media, he got a phone call from a close friend and teammate of Gudmunson informing him of what had befallen his former player. Suddenly, a terrible and senseless act a thousand miles away was hitting home like a Louisville Slugger to the forehead.

Like so many others, Dodson is hoping and praying for a homerun recovery. And with determination like Gudmunson’s, it’s bound to happen.

“He’s a very tough, hardworking North Dakota kid,” Dodson said, “and if there’s any one trait that will help you get through a tragedy like this, that’s what it is.”

-UND Today Writer Kaylee Cusack contributed to this report.