THOMASVILLE- If you are reading this article, you probably have an interest in sports and believe that all children should have the opportunity to participate in sports. Well, a new foundation in Davidson County has been formed to ensure just that. The GoPlay Sports Foundation strives to enhance the accessibility of recreational and school sporting opportunities to youth of lower economic means throughout Davidson County. GoPlay Sports works to provide quality, new and gently used sporting equipment and apparel to area youth by formulating a way to have the gear donated and distributed to youth in need.
So where did the idea for GoPlay Sports come from?
Enter Keosha Roberts, executive director of GoPlay Sports. A life-long resident of Davidson County, Roberts graduated from Lexington Senior High School in 2009.
“I played recreation ball, middle school and high school basketball and softball,” said Roberts. “Right after high school I volunteered to help coach the Lexington Senior High basketball team and was hired to coach the softball team. Later, I coached teams for the Lexington Recreation Department and Lexington YMCA.”
Today Roberts lives in Thomasville with her partner Shalonda and 4 children Jaiveon, Nyiveon, Zyiveon and Sahiem. She attended Davidson County Community College and will complete her degree in criminal justice from South University in December. She hopes to use her degree to pursue a job as a juvenile probation officer.
Roberts has seen the issue of inequity at every level she played and coached. “Being involved in sports in high school, I saw many of my peers were at a disadvantage because they couldn’t afford the sports equipment and apparel they needed to play,” said Roberts. “As years passed and I started coaching, I saw the same problem. When my kids got involved with sports I still saw disadvantaged kids and wondered if there was a resource that parents could find to help provide the needed equipment and apparel. A year ago, I was recovering on my couch after having surgery. Not able to do anything, my mind kept going back to all the kids that needed help with these resources. I picked up the phone and called an old friend of mine, Martha Larson, the DCCC director of small business. I explained I wanted to help disadvantaged families so their kids could participate. We kicked around some ideas. Martha and I worked through those ideas from March through August to get GoPlay Sports established.”
So, with the ground work laid, there is now a resource in Davidson County to help disadvantaged families. Any family in need in Davidson County is eligible for assistance. United Way of Davidson County referred the first family to GoPlay Sports and the organization provided them with cleats for their two children. As an organization in its infancy and at the time this interview is being done, four families have been helped and the foundation is preparing to launch full-time this summer.
When children return to school in the fall, GoPlay Sports knows there will be many families in Davidson County needing assistance so their children can participate in area sports programs. The challenge for Roberts and the organization is finding the equipment, apparel, funding and volunteers needed to help the foundation meet the needs of the community.
“The most needed items are athletic clothing (baseball/softball pants, jerseys, soccer shorts and other dri-fit type items), athletic tennis shoes, cleats for all sports and sizes, balls and equipment for all sports, sports bags and safety equipment (batting helmets, gloves, shin guards, knee pads, ankle braces, etc.), said Roberts. “We do not accept football pads, skate boards, bowling balls and swimming gear.”
Roberts is hoping to have two fundraisers in the near future.
“We are looking at an old school basketball tournament involving Thomasville and Lexington basketball alumni from 1990-2000,” said Roberts. “They will be playing for charity. We also are going to offer a sports drive/field day with different events going on where kids can participate and experience some different sports. Participants will be asked to bring their gently-used athletic items to donate.”
When asked who else is working behind the scenes to assure that GoPlay Sports will be a success, Roberts replied that the organization has a local board of directors. All have a passion for kids and their ability to participate in local sports programs. The board includes Roberts, Kevan Callicut, Lance Barrett, Martha Larson, Mary Jane Akerman, Jerel Wilson, LeAnn Kennedy and Lockhart McLean.
“We just want our kids to be kids and be able to stay out of trouble by being involved in our community sports and school programs,” said Roberts. “Much of my success and being able to graduate from college, I credit to my coaches and my involvement in athletics. We hope to expand beyond athletics in the future. I have a strong passion to see kids and teenagers strive to be leaders. Any kid or teen I come in contact with, I want to help them secure their future. I teach my own kids that failure is not an option. I look at other kids as my own. Yes, GoPlay Sports is about sports, but it is also about having an opportunity to be victorious. We want to establish pathways so that our youth can have unlimited opportunities to succeed in whatever they desire. If sports are a desire, then we are going to accomplish that goal. No kid or teen should ever be limited from anything. It takes a village to raise a child. These kids and teens are our future. GoPlay Sports would like to see all of our Davidson County ‘villages’ help our many kids and teens that are in need.”
GoPlay Sports accepts donations of new and gently-used equipment and apparel. Items may be dropped off from 2:30 pm-6:30 pm, Monday to Friday at the Thomasville Park and Recreation main office in downtown Thomasville. Volunteers are always welcome to help process and distribute equipment.
For more information on how you can support the organization, email goplaysportsnc@gmail.
Mailing Address: Thomasville Parks and Recreation Attn: GoPlay Sports/Keosha Roberts
205 E. Main Street, Thomasville, NC 27360
GoPlay Sports is a 501(c)(3) foundation. Donations are tax deductible.