Mallory Phagan wants you to ‘Play It Forward’, help others

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Mallory Phagan has always been involved in sports. She remembers playing baseball with her brother until she got old enough to play softball; and throughout high school, she’s participated in volleyball, basketball, and softball.

Playing sports is a big part of her life; and as she now prepares for graduation and college in the fall; Mallory has decided that she would like to share her love of sports with others.

And she hopes you will, too.

She has created “Play It forward”, a program that she hopes will see people donate gently used athletic equipment that will be turned around and donated to younger kids who are just getting started.

“I originally started thinking about it when we watched a movie in history class about ‘leveling the playing field’,” Mallory said, “But it never really became something that I wanted to act on until after I hurt my knee.”

The knee.

It was during a basketball game at Southwestern last December 17th, when Mallory was playing for the Lady Pacers and went down with a severe injury to her right knee. The injury not only saw the end of her basketball career; but since she won’t be medically cleared to resume activities until June; it also meant the end of her softball career, too.

It was the second time that she hurt her knee, as she also injured the same knee while playing softball against Madison during her sophomore year.

“When I got hurt, I just saw my basketball stuff, my softball and volleyball stuff in my room, that I’m never going to be able to use again,” Mallory said. “I was just wanting to do something with it. Might as well put it to use if I can’t do anything with it.”

High school teacher Adam Pietrykowski jumped in to help coordinate the program; with the student body as well as members of the community being encouraged to sort through athletic equipment and look for items that can be “played forward”.

Mallory said that she hopes to start locally, but also hopes that it isn’t just limited to Switzerland County. Items from all around the area will be accepted, and when it comes time for distribution; her main goal is to get equipment into the hands of children so they can experience the same joy that she has had – regardless of where they live.

The first step in Mallory’s “Play It Forward” is this Saturday, March 11th, when she will be at the Lantern Coffeehouse on Ferry Street in Vevay from 8 a.m. until noon to accept donations.

There are some limitations. Mallory asks that items be ‘gently used’, and need to be equipment: gloves, shoes, cleats, bats, balls, knee pads, shin guards, and other items. Clothing and uniforms cannot be accepted.

Once the equipment is collected, Mallory will organize things by sport; with distribution dates coordinated with specific sports seasons.

“I’ve had teachers and some students ask me about it, so I’m hoping that a lot of people get involved,” Mallory said. “There’s a lot of people in the community who have things, too, so it’s a great opportunity for people to put those things into the hands of kids who need them.”

To, ‘Play It Forward’, if you will.

She also is working to set up a system so that the program continues after she leaves the county. She’ll be attending IUPUI in Indianapolis in the fall to study nursing. She is the daughter of Angie and Troy Phagan.

Along with sports, Mallory is a 10-year member of the Switzerland County 4-H program; and is also active in the Pep Club at school.

And are her hopes for this project?

“I just want people to get use out of the stuff that’s being brought in from different places,” Mallory said. “We want to distribute at least twice a year around the times when sports seasons start. I just want kids to have the chance to play sports like I have. With graduation and stuff happening, I’ll be leaving, but their will still be people here to help guide the process.”

Mallory said that anyone who might have items to donate, but who can’t come to The Lantern on Saturday morning, can contact either her or Adam Pietrykowski at the high school, (812) 427-2626.