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While helping the Hokies reach the NCAA softball tournament, Kylie McGoldrick rallied friends to help kids in need.
Dave Knachel | Virginia Tech
Kylie McGoldrick (right) leads Virginia Tech with 11 home runs and ranks fourth in the ACC with a .364 batting average.
Grant Pearrell | Virginia Tech
Sophomore Kylie McGoldrick stands just 5-foot-5 but she hits cleanup in Virginia Tech’s batting order.
Friday, May 17, 2013
BLACKSBURG — This has been a productive school year for Kylie McGoldrick.
The All-ACC pick has not only helped the Virginia Tech softball team make the NCAA tournament, but she has aided the Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department as well.
When the Stratford, N.J., native was in high school, her family started a foundation that collects used baseball and softball equipment and donates it to organizations to help kids in need.
“My brother and I are so blessed to have the opportunity to play baseball and softball. The gear’s always been there for us,” McGoldrick said. “There are so many children out there that would love to do the same thing but don’t have the opportunity.
“My dad and I initially thought of [the idea] and my brother and my mom quickly jumped in, too. Our family just loves giving back.”
One summer, McGoldrick conducted an equipment drive for a Boys & Girls Club in New Jersey by asking players at one of her travel-ball tournaments to donate bats, gloves, and other items.
Now a sophomore second baseman for the Hokies, McGoldrick decided it was time she helped kids in the New River Valley.
Last December, she asked Tech baseball and softball players to dig up their old equipment while they were home for winter break. McGoldrick’s younger brother, Ryan, collected items in their hometown for the collection as well.
In January, McGoldrick donated the equipment to the Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department — 30 to 50 gloves, 10 to 15 bats and dozens of pairs of cleats.
“Some of it is brand new. It is absolutely unbelievable,” said Chris Slusher, the athletics supervisor for the Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department. “It was very impressive.
“We’ve had a few people donate old stuff that they don’t need anymore, but never the quantity and the quality that this stuff was.”
The equipment is now being used by some of the 7- to 12-year-olds who are playing softball or baseball for the department’s Dixie League teams.
“The first day of practice, some kids … show up with their ‘Chuck E. Cheese’s’ glove — it’s plastic — and no cleats,” Slusher said. “Some of our coaches in the past, they’ve actually gone out and purchased stuff out of their own pocket for kids.
“It was really nice this year to let the coaches know about [McGoldrick’s donation] during our coaches meeting. A lot of them came back to me and said, ‘This little boy or girl could really use a glove.’ It was like, ‘Cool,’ because we actually had it. Gloves are expensive.”
The charity’s name is 17K Diamonds for All. The “K” stands for Kylie, and 17 is the uniform number that McGoldrick and her brother have worn for years.
McGoldrick grew up in southern New Jersey, about 20 minutes from Philadelphia. She is a big fan of the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Phillies.
She decided to head south for college, reaping a full scholarship from Virginia Tech. But she still has the same boyfriend she did in high school — Bobby Applegate, who pitches for the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
McGoldrick started for the Hokies as a freshman last year, when she hit .264 and helped the team make the NCAAs for the first time since 2008.
This year, she has the fourth-best batting average in the ACC (.364.). She has belted a team-high 11 homers, up from four last season, and made the All-ACC first team.
McGoldrick credits some reading material for her improvement at bat. But they weren’t books about the art of hitting.
Last December, Tech coach Scot Thomas gave his players the book “Pyramid of Success,” written by the late basketball coaching legend John Wooden.
“It ties a lot in with faith, and that’s a huge aspect of my life,” McGoldrick said. “It basically tries to tell you you’re out here playing this sport for a God who gave you these abilities, so you have to almost picture yourself only playing in front of him.”
McGoldrick’s mother then gave her the book “Life Wisdom from Coach Wooden.”
“I’ve probably read over that three or four times this season,” McGoldrick said. “I bring that on every road trip, and I’ll skim through certain pages.
“When I was younger, I always heard, ‘This game’s 90 percent mental,’ and I never understood that at all. As I got older and this game became more competitive, I was like, ‘You really do need a strong mind.’ ”
Last month, the 5-foot-5, 145-pound McGoldrick was moved from second in the batting order to the cleanup spot.
“I laugh because I see my little 5-5 self and I don’t see myself as a huge power hitter still,” she said.
McGoldrick might have even more homers had she not suffered a partially torn posterior cruciate ligament in her left knee during the opening weekend of the season in February. After missing eight games, she returned for the team’s March trip to California. She smacked a grand slam against Long Beach State.
She homered in the team’s ACC quarterfinal win over Maryland last week, earning a spot on the ACC all-tournament team.
Next up for the Hokies is an NCAA regional at the University of Kentucky. Virginia Tech (35-19), seeded third in the four-team, double-elimination regional, will face second-seeded Notre Dame at 5 p.m. today. The regional also includes Kentucky, the No. 12 overall seed in the entire 64-team field, and Marshall.
McGoldrick’s father will be in the stands, although McGoldrick’s mother and brother will be back in New Jersey.
Because of her equipment drive, McGoldrick has a fan back in the Montgomery County Parks and Recreation Department too.
“I was just floored by what she did,” Slusher said.
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