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From wheelchair basketball star to roots rocker: Patrick Anderson returns home to Fergus for album release

Anderson and his wife Anna Paddock make up the musical duo The Lay Awakes and will perform Saturday at the Fergus Grand Theatre

Growing up in Fergus, Patrick Anderson loved two things — sports and music — before experiencing a life-changing event when he was nine years old. 

“I was in a car accident and lost my legs, but I came out the other side as a kid who still loved to play sports and loved to play music,” Anderson told GuelphToday by phone.

As a result of the injury, Anderson transitioned from playing hockey to wheelchair basketball and from playing piano to playing guitar.

“I gravitated toward guitar because there’s less footwork involved,” said Anderson.

Now 38 with three Paralympic gold medals to his name, Anderson says he is in the twilight of his career as a wheelchair basketball player, living with his wife Anna Paddock in Brooklyn, New York.

Anderson is a key member on Canada’s national team and last season played for the NY Rollin’ Knicks of the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.

“Basketball became my career and it still is, but growing up in a musical family that was always singing songs, I always hoped to do more with it,” said Anderson.

Paddock is American by birth but raised in Winnipeg. She is also an athlete and musician and in 2015 the duo released their debut EP under the name The Lay Awakes.

Her father is John Paddock, the former National Hockey League coach.

“We had similar stories — she was into sports and music her whole life. Once we got together and were married a few years we decided to see if we could start performing and writing some songs together,” said Anderson.

His basketball career has taken him all over the world and he hasn’t lived in Fergus since he was in high school, but Anderson said he still considers it home.

On Saturday, the duo will perform songs at an album release at the Fergus Grand Theatre in Anderson’s home town.

“Your hometown means a lot to you no matter who you are, but in my case I feel extra appreciative of my hometown because of going through that car accident when I was nine and how the small town community really rallied around me and my family and supported us,” said Anderson.

“They probably remember me as the kid who had the accident or the kid who plays wheelchair basketball, but I’m not sure how many people know I do music as well,” he added.

With elements of pop and roots rock, Anderson said the duo's music is influenced heavily by singer-songwriters, like Joni Mitchell, Ron Sexsmith and Stan Rogers.

As his sports career winds down, Anderson hopes to remain involved in wheelchair basketball and being an advocate for youth in sport.

“I don’t think I could get away from it if I tried. It’s a small world and it’s family at this point. I don’t think I could just get up and disappear,” he said.

“I definitely want to be involved in grass roots development. I was really blessed by a club called the Twin City Spinners out of Waterloo when I was growing up,” said Anderson. “That’s where I got my start and that’s what I want to do more of when I have more time.”

He also hopes to have more time to dedicate to making music with Paddock. 

“I think that is one of the lines for us between and sports and music is that we are both into the craft of it, knowing it doesn’t happen overnight, but if you put the reps in you get better at it and end up with something special,” said Anderson.

“Obviously I am in the twilight of my career now, but making music together is something we can do together for a long time yet. We are sort of taking the long view of it,” he said.

Since the release of the 2015 EP, Paddock and Anderson have welcomed two children, a three year old and another born nine months ago.

Anderson said the band was named by Paddock before they had children.

“A lot of our songs are pretty introspective and you can imagine her lying awake at night with her thoughts rolling about,” said Anderson, before quipping: “it took on a double meaning after we had kids.”


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Kenneth Armstrong

About the Author: Kenneth Armstrong

Kenneth Armstrong is a news reporter and photojournalist who regularly covers municipal government, business and politics and photographs events, sports and features.
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