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Drew’s quilts: Patchwork reflects bond between mother and son

By Ann Wayne

For the Salisbury Post

KANNAPOLIS — Candy Winecoff knows what it’s like to sit on the sidelines.

Watching her son, Drew Maher, play baseball through most of his school years and then football in high school and college laid a foundation of memories that she did not want to pass up.

Let me give you a little back story.

Drew was a star pitcher for A.L. Brown High School and started playing football his freshman year in high school.

“He played football to stay in shape for baseball,” Cathy says.

Between his freshman and sophomore years, he reached 6 feet, 2 inches tall and became a star quarterback.

In 2002, he broke his leg during the first game of his senior year and had to give up football. Nearly in tears, his mom recalls those days.

“I really saw Drew’s character come out during this time. He would go meet the players as they were leaving on the buses and give them a high-five and cheer them on as they were leaving for a game.”

Growing up attending Midway United Methodist Church during his childhood had laid a firm foundation. Drew’s parents always told him to have a “Plan B” if sports did not work out.

Drew says he was all about sports and wanted to be a professional athlete.

“The hardest part about the injury was not being able to play my senior year in high school at A.L. Brown,” he says.

But he feels the injury taught him important life lessons. One evening, the family phone rang and Drew’s older sister, Ashley, answered. On the other end of the line was Peyton Manning, a star quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts. Manning has been known to send emails and call athletes who had injuries or illnesses to encourage them.

“At first, I was star-struck,” Drew says.

Peyton was the driver of the conversation and talked about game plays and techniques, just like an old friend. They talked for 20 minutes.

After Drew’s leg injury, he was determined to have a successful season at some sport his senior year. He returned to baseball and won the most improved player award.

Drew played football through most of college at Lenoir Rhyne but had a few more injuries and decided to end his football career after his junior year.

His love of baseball led him to umpire in a Dixie Youth League when another umpire did not show for a game. He umpired through college for extra money and continued through the recession to help pay the mortgage on the first home he purchased after college.

He met a guy who was on a professional umpiring level who saw potential in Drew and encouraged him to go to a professional umpire school in 2011. He made the top 20 cut and was placed in the minor league Gulf Coast League. He umpired for two years and then began umpiring for colleges within an hour’s drive of his home.

He still loves the excitement of being on the field and the anticipation of calling games, he says. He fills in for minor leagues occasionally, but building a house this year and having a new baby have changed his priorities.

Drew saved all his T-shirts from elementary school through college and had thought about using them in a sports room in his house someday.

His mother had the idea of making them into a quilt. She had already made her son-in-law a quilt with some of his shirts and had made one for her parents, so she knew that she had to patch together Drew’s shirts too.

“It’s like working a puzzle,” Candy says. “All the pieces have to fit and the colors need to be coordinated so they will look good.” She doesn’t consider herself a seamstress but feels that she is more of a crafter.

The first quilt she made for Drew is all about football — his years playing at A.L. Brown and his love of the college and pro teams while attending Lenoir Rhyne. Notre Dame is represented because it’s Drew’s favorite college team and the movie “Rudy” was always a favorite.

“I can look at one of the shirts and they are flooded with memories. Especially the ones where I actually played in the games,” Drew says.

Candy completed the quilt and is working on a second one that will portray all of Drew’s passions. His favorite movies, “Caddy Shack” and “Dumb and Dumber,” are on this quilt. NASCAR, Dixie Youth League, the Panthers and other favorites tell stories of Drew’s childhood and interests.

The two quilts will lie on twin beds at Drew and Danielle’s new home, and a matching pillow will sit in the corner.

Candy had to take the quilts to her church in Kannapolis to lay out the squares on the floor in the Kids Ministry room, where her daughter, Ashley, is the coordinator. She needed a room large enough to line the up the squares and number them.

Drew says he could not have lined up the squares any better than his mom did. “She was ‘spot on’ with them,” he says.

Candy says each quilt takes about 68 hours to complete.

Candy says the look on Drew’s face was priceless when he saw the first quilt.

“He began rattling off memories,” she says.

Candy feels that the quilts tie them together and that they could become family heirlooms someday for Drew’s two children.

“Memories never die,” Drew says.

He knows his children will have questions about the quilt squares, and his 2-and-a-half-year-old son Caleb is already interested in sports. His 2-week-old daughter, Ivey, will probably be curious too.

Drew says having his parents at his games created a bond and he gained appreciation for their dedication to him and his interests.

“There were 10,000 sports fans at one of the Concord-Kannapolis games, and I could hear my mom screaming and laughing in the crowd.”

Candy missed only one game during Drew’s sports career. Even when he was in a cast in the press box, his parents were there supporting him.

Drew recently started his own real estate company, D.M. Properties & Associates in Kannapolis.

He always had an interest in real estate. While waiting tables at 131 Main, he met a few guys who offered to back him financially to buy a house and fix it up. Drew took them seriously and pursued his real estate license. He intended to flip a couple of houses but began to receive calls from people to help sell their houses.

His experience grew to the point that he was able to branch off from Keller Williams and now has six agents working with him in the Carolinas. Most of the houses that he flips are for first-time homebuyers.

“It is rewarding to see the improvements in people’s lives and also the improvements in the neighborhoods,” he says.

What would Candy tell other moms about preserving their children’s memories?

“When I’m gone, my family will have these memories from Máká,” she says. Her granddaughter first called her this. Ma is from “Grandma” and Ka is from “Candy.”

Drew concludes with this: “Some people have picture memories. I have the quilts.”

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