HARRISONBURG, Va. - On Tuesday, April 27, a group of local first grade students set aside practicing their handwriting and instead spent the afternoon practicing baseball and softball with the James Madison teams at Veterans Memorial Park. Roughly 50 children walked from Waterman Elementary School to play small games and run simulated drills with members of the JMU squads.
"It's great that the kids got to see our guys as college athletes and college students," said baseball associate head coach Jay Sullenger, who organized the event. "It gives them something to strive for and look up to."
After arriving at 12:30 p.m., the children were split into seven different groups, each led by a small group of JMU student-athletes. Some groups spent roughly 15 minutes getting instruction from players, such as learning basic pitching mechanics in the bullpen or hitting off tees at home plate, while others played various games like a mock home run derby or kickball on the softball field. Another group received a personal tour of the teams' new facilities in Memorial Hall. The children rotated stations throughout the afternoon.
Kristy Norton, JMU softball associate head coach, emphasized that it was "a great opportunity for our players to reach out and sort of grasp the concept of true community service. It's exciting for the team to give back to the game that's given them the opportunity to play Division I college softball."