By: Isabella Bordonaro
Managing and Online Editor
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa- Penn State New Kensington’s new official Varsity Baseball Team spent their winter break giving back to those in need in their local community.
Penn State New Kensington has had a club baseball team for many years, but finally during the 2016-17 academic year, they have become a Varsity sport. This means that the team will no longer be playing the game just for the fun of it, but now will have the chance to win the PSUAC title.
Jim Perry, the head coach of the team, has them trained and ready to start winning. He has been part of PSNK baseball for 2 years, and started out as a volunteer coach. He now has made the team a Varsity sport, and brought in 16 new recruits from the Alle-Kiski area.
Part of his coaching strategy though, involved the team taking time during their winter break to give back to the community in a monumental way.
According to Perry, the team worked with the Salvation Army in New Kensington, and “took 5,000 gifts, wrapped them, put them in categories, and then filled out wish lists for the different families,” he said. “We also bagged the gifts, and prepared them for a toy drive.”
Not only did the team do this for needy children in the area, they took time to care for the elderly as well.
“We went to Logan Place, an assisted living center in New Kensington, and we bought them gifts and candy, and sang some Christmas Carols,” Perry stated. “We visited each and every tenant.”
Jake Klukaszewski, a junior Secondary Education major at PSNK, is one of the Captains for team. He is primarily a catcher and outfielder. Klukazewski is ready to help lead the team into their first official season, “Even though it’s our first year, I expect us to compete for the PSUAC title. We have the team to do it.”
Klukazewski was proud to volunteer with his team. When asked if he felt it was important for the team to give back, he stated, “Absolutely! I think our major goal is to not only be better players on the field, but also to be better men off of it in our communities.”
Fellow Captain Ben Lesko, a senior IST major, had a similar response, “It shows the team mentality that we not only all have for each other, but towards everyone around us.”
Lesko is one of the team member who has been with it since the team was a club in Spring of 2014. He plays as an outfielder and first baseman. He stated that, “organization and team spirit has changed so much [now that they are Varsity sport]. Now, the boys want to be at practice, we joke with each other and build that team chemistry.”
Ryan Binkley, the third Captain, also enjoyed being part of the team’s philanthropic duties. Binkley is a freshman at PSNK, going for mechanical engineering. He plays as an outfielder and first baseman.
“I believe it’s very important to give back to the community because they are the ones who support us, so it means a lot for us to give them something in return,” Binkley said. “It makes you feel good as a person knowing you helped someone out.”
The season will officially start when the team travels down to Vero Beach, Florida during the week of March 5th where they will be playing against Hagerstown Community College.
“We are leaving March 5th for Vero Beach to play 6 games down there,” stated Perry. “When we get back, the season pretty much starts. We’ll probably play 5 exhibition games and the following weekend, we will start a 3 game series with Greater Allegheny.”
The team is excited and ready to start playing, and all share great expectations for the season.
“I believe our team will be very successful this upcoming season,” said Binkley. “We have a lot of hard workers on the team and we bond very well. All of our hard work will pay off.”
PSNK baseball is ready to give our school a winning team, and hit those home runs into the community’s heart!