The Dart: Vidalia woman flips over cooking hamburgers for softball fans

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 29, 2019

VIDALIA —In the rules of softball, the goal is to make it back home — which is where former player, Katelynn Bertelsen, was as she cooked burgers in a concession stand.

When the dart landed at the Concordia Parish Recreation District 3 sports complex in Vidalia Saturday afternoon, the ballparks were filled with young softball players participating in tournaments, which meant the park would be busy for most of the day, Bertelsen said.

Bertelsen arrived at the concession stand at 6:45 a.m. Saturday morning, she said, and knew she wouldn’t be leaving until at least 11 p.m.

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However, Bertelsen said she didn’t mind the long hours.

“It’s a lot of work, but I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s always been a part of me, I guess. I’ve always been working here.”

As the daughter of a softball coach, Bertelsen said she spent many summers in the concession stand when she had outgrown being able to play on the field.

Bertelsen said she graduated from Louisiana Tech University last November and came home to work as a substitute teacher in the same classrooms she grew up in.

Next fall, Bertelsen said she plans to teach biology at Vidalia Junior High School.

Until summer’s end, she is committed to her job as a cook, she said.

She smothered hamburger patties in the concession stand’s secret ingredients, which includes Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning. As they sizzled on the grill, the aroma created a fragrance that attracted a line of hungry customers.

Bertelsen said working at the grill was a new task for her that she enjoyed doing a lot more than standing at the window taking orders.

“No one told me how to cook,” she said. “They just told me to get out there and start cooking. … I enjoy doing it, and no one else wanted to. … It’s easier than taking so many different orders and adding them up. It’s a simple, repeated process.”

As she cooks, Bertelsen said she is also able to socialize with old friends and feels nostalgic as she looks out on the field of softball players.

“It feels weird, watching them play,” she said. “They look so young. I don’t feel like I was ever that young. I started playing when I was about three.”