Softball Mentoring Promotes Connection
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A mentoring opportunity allows members of the varsity softball team to connect with local middle schoolers.
Throughout the school year, junior and senior members of the team participate in mentoring sixth graders in the cognitively disabled classes at Horace Mann Middle School.
This mentoring stemmed from a leadership class project seven years ago and has continued since. The original student wanted to form a program that included the younger students and would continue year after year, instead of occurring just one year.
Because of its success in its first year, the program has flourished and improved every year. Every year, each player is paired with a sixth grade student. Most mentoring sessions are held at Horace Mann and take place about once a month. Each meeting has a different focus of activities, from pumpkin bowling to sledding on the hill near Memorial Park.
“Anything that shows that there’s more than just the game gives the girls so many things to drawn from it. When you give back and give part of yourself it means even more sometimes that you’re helping somebody out and you build that relationship,” varsity softball coach Richard Frost said.
One of Frost’s favorite parts of the program is when the sixth graders are introduced on the field along with the starting lineup.
“When the kids are introduced it’s so fun to see them standing out there in line and to see how excited and thrilled they are to be standing on the field,” Frost said.
Perhaps the biggest impacts the program leaves on the players is that they are made aware of how many opportunities they are offered that the group of sixth graders are not necessarily granted.
“I love mentoring because it’s such a refreshing part of my day, and the students are all so happy for us to be there,” senior Kate Dietzen said. Dietzen leads the mentoring program along with fellow senior teammate Rachel Terry. The combined responsibilities of the two include communicating with the teacher to coordinate a day for each month, creating activities, buying supplies, and leading group activities in the classroom. Dietzen says that the activities coincide with the holiday of the month, such as Halloween during October.
“The best part of mentoring is getting to know each student throughout the course of the year. I love when they feel comfortable enough around me to share things about their life,” Dietzen said. Additionally, Dietzen says that it is extremely rewarding when the students enjoy the activities she creates and how she is able to make a difference in their lives.
Softball is not the only sport that participates in community service activities. Numerous sports volunteer their time with Special Olympics, including girls’ volleyball, boys’ lacrosse and boys’ soccer, with bowling, basketball and flag football respectively. The boys’ basketball team rakes leaves each year in the fall and the football team participates in “Rocket Readers,” a reading buddy system with a local elementary school, among many other sports which are involved in the community.
“Volunteering provides the athletes with a sense of differentiating their role as athlete to being a good citizen and representing our school and community,” NHS athletic director Mr. Nate Werner said. Athletics are almost entirely supported by the community, from attendance at games to parents driving their children to each practice. Werner says that it helps the community see athletes as real people, and it shows them that the majority of students are good people who make the right decisions.
“The younger kids look up to high schoolers as being the epitome of awesome. I think them seeing positive role models and interacting with them, they remember that. The kids just absolutely love it,” Werner said.
Each sport uniquely connects with others through involvement in the community, which truly leaves a lasting impact for years.