Greater Latrobe Senior High School juniors Tyler Lynch and Bobby Fetter have created a new initiative, which they call “Cat’s Pride,” that will provide used and new sports equipment and apparel to students in need.

This idea isn’t just for students who may have difficulties paying for equipment. Young athletes in need of a quick replacement for broken equipment and kids wanting to try out a new sport before actually joining a team can also benefit.

This equipment would allow athletes to have the needed equipment without purchasing something they may never use again, and those students can then donate the item back to Cat’s Pride if it goes unused.

The kickoff to Cat’s Pride will begin Wednesday, May 12, and run through May 21.

Upon collection, items will be inspected, cleaned and sanitized before distribution will occur. When picking up equipment, donations of no more than $10 will be accepted.

Equipment being collected includes:

  • Baseball — gloves, bats, helmets, cleats, baseballs, batting gloves, ballcaps;
  • Football — cleats, footballs;
  • Hockey — hockey pads, hockey sticks, pucks;
  • Lacrosse — lacrosse sticks, lacrosse balls;
  • Basketball — shoes, basketballs;
  • Bowling — bowling balls/bags, shoes;
  • Soccer — shin guards, soccer balls, cleats;
  • Softball — bats, gloves, cleats, helmets, softballs, ballcaps;
  • Tennis — rackets, tennis balls, visors, skirts;
  • Field Hockey — field hockey sticks, hockey ball, shin guards, cleats;
  • Golf — clubs (men’s, ladies’, youth), golf balls, tees, golf bags, golf shoes;
  • Wrestling — shoes, headgear, singlets.

Anyone interested in donating cleaned sports equipment or apparel can drop it off from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Latrobe Municipal Building, 901 Jefferson St., Latrobe.

Monetary donations will be accepted to purchase additional sports equipment, and can be made payable to GLSD and mailed to Cat’s Pride-GLSHS, 131 High School Road, Latrobe, PA 15650.

For more information, contact Cat’s Pride at LatrobeCatsPride@gmail.com.

“I feel as though this would bring a lot more people out to play sports in general, being that they wouldn’t have to worry about the cost or even the reliability of the equipment,” GLSHS senior Lauren Jones said. “It’s also a good way to up-cycle and get the most use out of equipment as possible.”

Lynch and Fetter said they hope this program ultimately increases participation across all sports in the area.

“Hockey equipment can be very pricey, and it definitely deters some parents from giving their child the opportunity to try the sport,” GLSHS sophomore Reid West said.

And having the most basic equipment could determine whether or not a child even develops an interest in or begins a sport.

“Donations will help girls interested in basketball and softball get started with the sport or get better at it,” GLSHS junior Bailey Watson said. “Receiving a new glove, bat or ball will get them ready and wanting to get on the court and/or field.”

Coaches in the community also hope that being able to get that equipment at low or no cost would ultimately encourage parents and young athletes to participate, which may then create more athletes at the junior high and high school levels.

“Outside organizations like Little League and others do not necessarily provide all of the gear needed to participate,” said Brandon Simpson, Greater Latrobe Junior High football coach and director at Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation. “Parents and guardians are either forced to purchase the gear for their athletes or acquire it through other means. A lot of the time this leads to young athletes using the wrong size equipment because it was free or a hand-me-down. Ultimately this does not benefit the young athlete.”

The founding students envision housing the donated equipment in a room at the high school, then offering one event during the summer and at least one day prior to each sports season for elementary through high school-aged students to “shop” for needed items. Lynch and Fetter hope to also be available on an as-needed basis if an emergency situation arises.

Lynch believes that sports are more valuable for social development than many people realize.

“They teach the child lessons such as teamwork, discipline, hard work and leadership,” Lynch said.

“We want to ensure that no child is kept from this extremely important part of their life due to their current situation.”

“Sports have shaped me to be someone I am proud to be, and I want as many kids as possible to feel the same,” Fetter added.

Various clubs and organizations at the high school have given their support to the cause. Student Council, National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy, Letterman’s Club and Key Club will be assisting in both promoting the initiative and collecting donations.

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