After a softball struck 14-year-old Celine Podlesney above her eye, her father realized safety precautions needed to be taken to ensure that his daughter and other baseball and softball players remained protected.
Fortunately for John Podlesney, the girl's father, his role as a board member for Hazleton, Pennsylvania's Valley Regional Girls Softball League (VRGSL) provided him with a means to express his concerns.
Other VRGSL board members agreed with Podlesney – the inexperience of youth players, coupled with the speed at which balls could approach players, threatened the safety of many of the league's athletes.
Members of VRGSL decided to make safe youth softball equipment available to the players at a discount if such materials are purchased through VRGSL. After applying for a $1,000 grant, VRGSL was able to offer helmets with facemasks to its members at nearly half of the ticketed price.
Although VRGSL does not mandate its members wear any specific softball equipment, players and even some coaches are adopting use of the masks and helmets on their own.
"It's become 'cool' to wear the masks," VRGSL officer John McGran told local news source The Standard Speaker. "In fact, we expect the majority of players to be sporting these masks when the season starts this May. It's an amazing turnaround from a year ago when only a handful of our nearly 300 players wore a mask."
Baseball and softball involve fewer regular collisions between players than many other major sports, but these players are not immune to injury on the field of play. Parents who are concerned with the safety of their children on a baseball or softball diamond should contact an online seller of youth baseball equipment and softball sporting goods in order to keep their young athletes protected.