State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

For the Love of the Game — and Beyond

by and on February 28, 2015 7:30 AM

State College Area High School's Hannah Shields needed a senior project.

She wanted to do something fun, something she enjoys and make sure that it helped a charitable organization.

It will happen on Saturday, Feb. 28, when Shields holds a softball clinic for youngsters from 1 to 3 p.m. in the State College Area High School North Gymnasium.

"I got a chance to see how it was done (last year) and I thought it was a really cool idea," Shields says. "I love softball and I thought it would be amazing to see kids coming out. Even if they don't love softball, maybe this will help them learn to love it. I thought it might help softball flourish."

The fee — for a couple of hours of expert instruction — is a mere $20. The proceeds, Shields explains, will go to the Jimmy V Foundation. The Jimmy V Foundation funds cancer research.

"I'm a huge fan of college basketball. I love watching Duke and Kentucky play. You always hear a lot about Jimmy V. I never really understood what it was, so I did some research. I thought it was amazing that all the proceeds go to funding cancer research," Shields says.

Shields' senior project comes just one weekend after THON, which raised more than $13 million for the Four Diamonds Foundation, which helps combat pediatric cancer.

"Everyone hears about THON around here. This is even bigger and I just wanted to be able to contribute to that," Shields says.

According to Shields, there's enough space for 25 participants. As of press time, the clinic was nearly full.

She has six of her fellow students helping with the clinic, as well as her head coach.

Shields is a pitcher for the Lady Little Lions. She loves the game and wants to pass on her love of the game to those who are just getting started.

"I think a lot of kids don't get into (softball) as much as we did. For them to see the high school girls and to see how far we've come, I think they'll want to be like us. Teaching the little kids the right fundamentals will get them prepared for when they're older. If we can help teach them, it will help build the program," Shields says.

Although area fields are still covered in snow, Shields is looking forward to getting into a gym and spending a few hours throwing a softball around. The fact that it involves teaching makes it all the better.

"Softball has always been that one place where I can go and just forget everything else that's going on ... whether it's a boyfriend who broke up with me or a bad fight with a friend. You always have a close bond with your teammates. The teammates who help pick you up, you'll always have them," Shields says.

And while Shields will be doing a little bit of everything come Saturday, she will really look forward to teaching the young pitchers how to throw the ball across the plate.

She loves pitching. There's nothing quite like striking someone out.

"It's just an amazing feeling to know that you've really helped your team. It's great to work so hard for something that you really love and see the results on the field," Shields says.

In addition to being her senior project and helping a great cause, Shields is really looking forward to being with her friends on what will probably be a frigid Saturday afternoon.

"To get together to with all the State High softball players, it gets me excited," she says. "We only get to play together one more short season. I know that all the hard work we put in this winter is going to pay off in the spring and the summer and we're going to have an amazing season."

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This story was produced by the staff at the Centre County Gazette. It was re-published with permission. The Centre County Gazette is a weekly publication, available at many locations around Centre County every Thursday morning.

Chris Morelli is the managing editor of The Centre County Gazette.
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