Heading into the 2019 season, Louis E. Dieruff High School softball found itself extremely low on participants.
Located in Allentown, PA, the student poverty rate at the school is 90%. Many kids do not have their own equipment at all. Others show up with cleats and gloves that are too small, or not built for high-school level play.
Coaches must therefore get creative in their recruitment, and lean on other sports programs in the school to generate interest.
“In efforts to keep the program alive, we worked closely with girls basketball to recruit as many athletes as possible,” said Brianna Knipe, head softball coach at Dieruff. “We had eight girls make the team who had never played softball before, three of whom were able to get varsity time.”
Knipe said this was only possible because of the donated equipment that the school received prior to the season. Each girl was given a brand new glove, cleats, a bag, a practice bat, and a batting helmet.
Participating in softball helped the girls maintain strong grades in the classroom, and feel confident in their athleticism by training and succeeding in a new sport.
It also strengthened the bonds between the girls, who now found themselves teammates in multiple sports.
“This was by far the most together team I have ever coached,” Knipe said.
“I think being able to have girls who play multiple sports together created a bond. They were excited about the season, participated in study halls, and there were no fights or drama.”
One student received her very own catchers gear thanks to the donation. Knipe said it was a life-changing moment for the student.
“She wanted to be a catcher so badly, and this desire drove her to maintain passing grades and report daily on her behavior so that she could play.”
The donated equipment distributed through PIFBS has greatly helped Dieruff’s efforts to grow its softball and baseball programs over the past two seasons. If you have lightly-used baseball or softball equipment you would like to donate to help kids get back on the field around the world, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.