Over the past few days the UVA-Wise softball team has received tremendous support from corporate venders, the University of Virginia, and from several friends of the College.
The team lost much of its equipment when a fire destroyed a bus that was transporting the players and coaches to Wheeling, West Virginia. The players and coaches were not injured, but some equipment was damaged beyond repair. The generosity shown to the team following the incident has been overwhelming. It has helped the team bounce back with renewed resilience.
“The donations the team has received truly warms our hearts,” said Chancellor Donna P. Henry. “The generosity shown to our softball program has gone a long way toward renewing the players’ spirits following what was a frightening experience. I know each player has been touched by the donations to the program, and so has the entire campus.”
Carla Williams, athletics director for the University of Virginia, informed UVa-Wise Athletics Director Kendall Rainey Thursday that $10,000 raised from concessions sold at the John Paul Jones arena would be donated to the softball program. A large crowd gathered at the arena Monday night to watch the UVA Men’s Basketball team win its first NCAA National Championship.
“We became aware of the bus fire and immediately began to consider ways in which we could help,” Williams said. “With men’s basketball participating in the Championship Game, we knew this would be a meaningful way to help Wise. We are so very thankful no one was injured, but they lost a lot of equipment and gear in the fire. This is our opportunity to say we care about your program and we want to help.”
Equipment managers for UVA’s softball and baseball teams also reached out to Coach Karen Bitter to help with equipment needs as well.
“It is one example of the many ways the University and the College at Wise reach out to each other when a need arises,” Henry added. “The donation is greatly appreciated, and I want to thank UVA Athletics Director Carla Williams for thinking of our softball team.”
Others who have assisted include BSN/Under Armour, Mountain East Conference and teams, VA Legacy Elite softball, UVA athletics, UMKC Softball, Tennessee Softball and the Wise Fire Department. In addition, several alumni and friends are also making gifts designated for the softball program. Rainey said each corporate vender and softball groups stepped up and provided necessary assistance quickly. Whether it was last minute equipment needs, bats or other items, the softball team appreciates all the help it received.
“We are incredibly touched by the outpouring of support for the UVa-Wise softball team members, coaches and bus driver these past few days,” said Valerie Lawson, senior director of development. “It is heartwarming that friends near and far have offered encouragement and significant financial support to enable us to replace the personal items of the players and the equipment for the team. For that, we are deeply grateful.”
The team has several games left before the end of the season. So far the players are doing well as the team finishes up its last season in the Mountain East Conference. The College begins play in the South Atlantic Conference this fall.