Photo by Matthew Claybrook
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Trinity softball team visited McAllister Park to introduce Trinity Buddies, their new community involvement program. The activities were formatted as a skills clinic, in which each Trinity player worked with a member of the youth team that plays their corresponding position.
At the head of the project was Gina Monaco, a sophomore outfielder raised in San Antonio. She explained that she created the program because she was inspired by the opportunities that community softball gave her as a child.
“I’ve always wanted to start something that would give back to the kids who grew up in the same community as me. I found a charity called Wish for Our Heroes, and they teamed up with me to help get donations that allowed me to advertise and publicize my idea,” Monaco said. “We initially wanted to work with military kids, but there’s quite a bit of yellow tape with that. In the end, we decided we would work with the McAllister Park team, which is actually the same little league I played with when I was younger.”
To spur her plan into action, Monaco used her connections in the community.
“To move Trinity Buddies from an idea to a plausible reality, I contacted my teammate’s dad, who is a select coach. I explained the program’s mission, and he was immediately on board. We started bouncing ideas off each other, and eventually decided on the skills camp,” Monaco said.
During the skills camp, the Trinity team split into small groups to coach the youth players through interactive drills.
“We organized some fun icebreaker activities so that we could all learn each other’s names and positions. We started with warmup throwing, then divided up into position drills. During these drills, the kids really started to open up to us, and it was a lot of fun for everyone. To finish the day out, we did a base-running drill and thanked everyone for coming,” Monaco said.
Hailey Wilson, senior team captain, said that the base-running drill was one of her favorite activities that day.
“We did this little running competition at the end with the girls. It was a race, and we were having tons of fun chasing each other in a big circle. We were all getting so into it, just sprinting as fast as we could with the kids. It reminded me of how exciting sports were when we were little, and it was great to experience that feeling with them,” Wilson said.
Additionally, Wilson was excited for the team to try something new.
“When Gina first told us about her idea, I thought it was very cool. Usually our team’s only service activity is in the fall, so I was excited to try something our team had never done before. Although I wasn’t sure exactly what we would be doing, I was really excited because I could see Gina’s passion for it,” Wilson said.
In regards to Wilson’s comment, Monaco attributed much of the success of Trinity Buddies to the support she received from her Tiger teammates.
“One of the most important aspects of the project was getting my team involved. They were all very supportive, and I think their positive outlook on our first event was important in making the kids feel comfortable,” Monaco said.
Jenna Kash, a first-year outfielder from Flower Mound, Texas, hopes that the children she worked with will feel encouraged by their new relationships with the Trinity team members.
“Although I’m not from San Antonio, I know that community softball is a great step in developing future softball players. I hope that the relationship we established with the players will encourage them to further pursue the sport. I think they enjoyed being around us, and I definitely enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with them,” Kash said.
Similarly, Wilson found that the experience was valuable for both the kids and the Trinity team.
“I think that volunteering is a great team bonding activity. One of the key concepts of team sports is that you’re playing for something bigger than yourself, and volunteering is so unique because it directly applies that concept. Gina’s program gives us the opportunity to improve team camaraderie while inspiring kids, and I hope that in the future it will strengthen the bond we have with each other,” Wilson said.
Once softball season begins, Monaco’s program will bring the little league team to the Trinity campus, where they will watch the Tigers in action.
“The future of the program is looking bright. The kids were excited, the parents were appreciative, and all of the coaches involved were a great help. Overall, everyone was responsive and excited by all of the activities, and it was definitely a great experience for everyone involved. In the future months, we hope to buddy up directly with one of the teams to create a mentorship and help them further their skills even more. Eventually, we’ll support the little league’s practices and games, and they’ll come to one of our games at the end of March,” Monaco said.
The Trinity softball team is scheduled to play 40 games this season, including 26 home games, prior to the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) championships, which will be played in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Catch the Tigers in action on Friday, Feb. 8, against McMurray University, 3–5 p.m. at the Jesse H. Jones Recreation Area.