Bonac Junior, Baseball Mentor Meeting Athletic Needs

Passing equipment on to needier kids on Long Island
Sydney Salamy’s second athletic gear collection is to go to Riverhead High School. Patricia Fall Salamy

Sydney Salamy, an East Hampton High School junior who runs cross-country, came upon the idea not long ago, given the fact that she and her siblings, Drew, a baseball player, and Sienna, a softball player, were going through lots of sports gear, to pass this equipment on to needier kids on Long Island.

“I asked my mom [Patricia, a runner herself] about it, and she looked up an organization, Play It Forward USA, online, and so we became a branch of it,” Sydney said during a recent conversation. 

As a result, Sydney’s mother created a website through which donations of athletic equipment and money to the nonprofit can be made, and Sydney put a large red bin in the high school lobby, a bin that was soon overflowing. 

“The first one we sent [in November] to Elmont Memorial High School,” Sydney said. “Their athletic director was very grateful. He said he had been helping the kids there who needed things by paying for whatever it was they needed by himself. The next one we’re going to send to Riverhead.”

Sydney, who also works on the school’s yearbook, is a member of the Key Club, and is a member of the National Honor Society, comes by her running ability naturally. Her mother and father met at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where she ran cross-country and track, and where he threw the javelin.

Carnegie Mellon is on the list of colleges she’s interested in, as are Cornell, Oberlin, and Emerson.

“I like technology,” she said, “especially computer animation.”

She plans, she said, to put bins in the Springs School and in the East Hampton Middle School in the near future, and possibly promote Play It Forward East Hampton’s mission at road races here this summer. The ends of seasons, she thought, would be good times to collect used equipment.

The Play It Forward East Hampton High School website says, in part, “your gently used athletic equipment and clothing donations will give an athlete in need an invaluable opportunity to participate in valuable team building associated with sports, help young adults build confidence, develop leadership skills and sportsmanship, find positive mentors in their coaches and teammates, improve academics and overall health, and build time-management skills.”

Among “the items we can accept” are balls, shoes, and clothing associated with baseball, basketball, cross-country, field hockey, ice hockey, football, golf, kickball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and wrestling; rackets, sticks, and clubs used in baseball, golf, field hockey, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and tennis, and protective gear such as gloves, goggles, shin guards, shoulder pads, and kneepads.

A poster the Salamys designed encouraging East Hampton High School students to participate in a Play It Forward equipment drive in March asked “what if you were forced to miss out on playing a sport simply because you couldn’t afford the equipment? Play It Forward is a student-run organization that collects lightly used sports gear and donates it to students in need across Long Island. . . .”

“I think all kids deserve to have a chance to play,” Sydney was quoted as saying in a recent article in Newsday. “They shouldn’t have to worry about not being able to play a sport because they don’t have the equipment.”

In a similar vein, Tim Garneau of East Hampton’s Little League organization recently donated more than 150 excess bats to Project Beisbol, an organization working with 54-plus youth baseball and softball teams “in communities of economic need” in such Latin American countries as Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Its website, projectbeisbol.org, adds that another of its aims is to promote “educational and cultural exchange between youth of the U.S.A. and Latin America.”

Garneau added that, in addition to the bats, “we also gave them four big boxes of major league baseball cards from the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s that someone had given your editor, David Rattray. They were thrilled. I’m sure we could find more things to give them, such as used catcher’s gear, that otherwise might be thrown out. . . . At any rate, we’ve opened a line of distribution.”

After Sydney Salamy put a Play It Forward collection bin in the high school’s hallway last fall, it was soon overflowing. Patricia Fall Salamy