“We got an anonymous donor who was willing to give $1,000 to the team to be used however the coach wanted it to be used,” Rock Bridge softball player Lindsey Zelenak said.
This was Aug. 8, the second day of practice for the Bruins. New coach Joe Henderson was looking to bring a new attitude, a new look to his team.
The money, it was decided, would go towards new uniforms.
But, as is often the case, there was a catch. To earn the money, the team had to collect 2,000 food items for donation to the Central Missouri Food Bank.
And, according to Henderson, it was to be done by that Friday, giving the girls three days to meet their goal.
“We just thought we’d challenge them and see what we could do,” Henderson said.
Zelenak, a junior second baseman, was game.
“So I called up the food bank. (Henderson) put me in charge. I asked ‘would you like 2,000 cans?’” Zelenak said. “She figured it would be throughout the season, but I was like ‘actually, it’s going to be by Friday.’”
And so the wheels were set in motion. Some team members went door to door looking for donations, while others made fliers for the cause. Some just went to the store.
By that Friday, they had easily bested their goal, collecting 2,201 pounds of food. Most canned goods, such as peas, carrots and green beans, weigh slightly less than a pound per can.
The $1,000 dollars and, thus, the new gold uniforms were theirs. That, as well as a little peace of mind.
“Honestly, even if our season ends up not going well, which is not how it looks like it’s going to be right now, we’ll at least know that we helped others out,” Zelenak said.
“I’m sure that, in the end, that’s going to make more of a difference.”
Senior Jenny Smith agreed.
“It’s so little work and it does so much,” Smith said.
Henderson said he could hardly have been more proud of his girls.
“What it says about them is that they are willing to accept a challenge and do what they need to do to come together as a team,” he said.
“Especially during that time, in that heat, running two-a-days in the morning and evening. They were doing six hours of softball, so they just had this window in the middle, in the heat of the day, and their willingness to do that says to me that they wanted to do something unique.”
But the Bruins haven’t stopped at unique. At their home opener on Aug. 24, they helped raise $244 in donations for the Molly Bowden Scholarship Fund and are eyeing a future community service project with the Truman Veterans Hospital.