On a chilly and cloudy early November day, when most softball players are enjoying their offseason, three Hampton Bays residents, who are freshmen at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead, were installing a new scoreboard, which they fundraised themselves through Girl Scouts.
Kate Wilkie, Olivia Valle and Maria Lucatorto were able to scrounge up $8,000 for a brand new, state-of-the-art scoreboard for the new softball field at Mercy. The fundraising effort was made by the three girls so they could provide for their school team, but to also get the Girl Scout Silver Award, which is earned through 50 hours of community service. It’s the second highest award in the Girls Scouts and one they started to work on as eighth-graders. They are currently working on separate projects to receive the Gold Award, the highest in the Girl Scouts, which requires 80 hours of community service. They should reach that at the end of their sophomore years.
The girls, who have been in Troop 2713 out of Southampton since kindergarten, raised the money and accrued the needed hours of community service partially by selling softball T-shirts that read, “Forget the glass slippers this princess wears cleats!” They sold the shirts at school and at their softball games—all three girls play on the Hampton Riptides, a travel softball team that consists of mostly East End players.
The girls also spent a large amount of their time calling and going to local East End businesses to get donations.
“We sent out a business letter where we got money from the big companies in and around Riverhead, and if they made a donation of a certain amount, they got their name on the scoreboard,” Valle explained. “The girls [at Mercy] never get to play on a field with a scoreboard, only the boys do, so it’s making it even. And all of our opponents had scoreboards so we just wanted to bring it up to par.”
The girls learned a few life lessons along the way, such as things don’t always go according to plan. The scoreboard was originally delivered to a school in New Jersey, then some of the parts made it to Riverhead, while others didn’t. Finally the entire scoreboard was delivered, but then they had to figure out where it would be installed.
Eventually the scoreboard was put up against one of the school’s buildings adjacent to the field, though the support poles for it had to go deeper than the foundation of the school, so the installation of the board became a bit of an engineering nightmare. The girls got a lot of help from Bob Terry of Terry Contracting in Riverhead, which donated the installation of the scoreboard and was able to work out all of the kinks.
Debbie Kneidl, director of advancement at Mercy, commended the girls for their dedication to improving the school’s grounds.
“Without the girls, this would not have been possible,” she said. “It shows their school spirit in supporting their school. Mercy is a nonprofit, Catholic school that depends on donations and support from the community to add programs and enhance our school, so the girls are really truly exemplifying the Mercy spirit and the Girls Scout spirit by helping out the community at large.”
Melissa Edwards, who is currently the acting athletic director at Mercy, was proud of what the girls were able to do for the softball program. And being a former softball coach herself, Edwards thinks it’s one of the nicest fields in Suffolk County.
“This is amazing,” she said. “We’re very fortunate that we were able to get some great donors throughout the process. The Girl Scouts have been putting in a crazy amount of work for them and their parents, so it’s been a collective team effort and we’re very grateful for what they’ve been able to do for us, because it is enhancing the pride we have among our sports.”