Students at the Apollo Elementary School in Titusville, Florida, send a message of thanks to members of the Rowan College of South Jersey softball team prior to the school’s closing. The pandemic cut short the Roadrunners’ softball season, but that didn’t stop the team from delivering a variety of supplies and physical education equipment to the school.
The Rowan College of South Jersey (RCSJ) softball team will not be taking the field any time soon as the global community practices social distancing, but that did not bench the Roadrunners when it came to uplifting the spirits of elementary school students in Florida’s Brevard Public School District.
For the past few years, RCSJ’s softball team has eagerly participated in community service projects during their spring break. In August, the Roadrunners began their annual initiative collecting school supplies, physical education equipment and more than $300 in gift cards to deliver to children at the Apollo Elementary School. Spearheaded by five Elementary Education majors, the Roadrunners sprang into action—assembling eight boxes of assorted school and athletic supplies —after learning that the 839 students attending the Title 1 school had little-to-no playground equipment. Then the pandemic hit. When the spring break trip and softball season got cancelled, Head Coach Stephen DePasquale and the softball team quickly changed their game plan.
“In light of these tough times for everyone, the team remained positive shipping, instead of personally delivering, the boxes of supplies to the school so that when the Apollo School children return to the playground they have athletic gear,” said DePasquale. “It has been one of the toughest times I have been through as an educator and a coach. Although it was hard to see my devasted student athletes’ faces after cancelling their trip and the season, the work they have put into this project has been amazing. A special thank you to Sam and Cheryl Micklus, owners of the education program Odyssey of the Mind, for assisting with the cost of shipping.”
The pandemic couldn’t bench the RCSJ softball team when it came to uplifting the spirits of Apollo Elementary School students in Florida. Roadrunner student athletes include: Lacey Abrego, Kylie Abriola, Julianna Capasso, Brooke Cooper, Olivia Farina, Sabrina Finneran, Grace Fox, Paige Fox, Mackenzie Freas, Jill Frisone, Molly Kurz, Victoria London, Macenzie Long, Kelsee Murphy, Angelina Picozzi, Makenzie Ponto, Kaylee Smallets and Leigh Swietanski.
“Being a part of the RCSJ softball team is very humbling. Coach Steve always wants us to give back to the community and to help in any way that we can. When we heard about the Apollo School District in Florida we knew we wanted to help out,” said Mackenzie Freas, a sophomore Elementary Education major from Pennsville. “We had countless boxes filled with not only school supplies, but also playground equipment. Each softball player received donations from family and friends while also donating their own stuff. It was amazing being able to help out so much.”
"Thank you and your student athletes for your generosity," Apollo Elementary School Assistant Principal Trelawney Wise wrote in her email to Coach DePasquale and the softball team. "I hope this picture will put a smile on your faces. The students loved everything. It was like Christmas. Thank you very much for choosing Apollo School. We are very appreciative. Stay safe and be blessed."