HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Western Mass News is your Local Sports Authority.
A foundation is stepping up its efforts to help a local boys and girls club after the coronavirus pandemic forced many athletes away from some of their favorite activities.
Volleyball is back here at the Holyoke Boys and Girls Club and the competition is on.
"It just makes me happier being in a gym, it keeps me in a good mood when I’m energetic."
The coronavirus pandemic forced these kids away from the court for a long time, and during that time they needed help.
"It's been an awfully long year, and it's been an especially long year for youth coming from communities similar to Holyoke with disadvantage youth, who don't always have opportunities," Holyoke Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Eileen Cavanaugh said.
Play Ball is a charity supporting underserved communities across the Bay State providing high-quality sports opportunities. This volleyball league is one of them. Play Ball Executive Director Chris Lynch said they saw a need and acted.
"We came out here, we looked at the district, we spoke with the receiver, we spoke with our contacts here, it just seemed like a great fit. We feel like we can have a really big impact here because the city is smaller, the funds that we put out here go a long way," Lynch said.
Cavanaugh said Play Ball has lifted a huge weight off their shoulders.
"For Play Ball to call us and say, look it, we recognize that you're struggling. The support and the infrastructure dollars that they were willing to give us was going to be really meaningful and impactful," Cavanaugh said.
But Play Ball not only impacting these kids on the court but off the court too.
"It's like they're doing things, and stop doing bad things in the streets. getting them away from the streets, doing things that they can actually do in life," Boys & Girls Club mentor Jayden Rivera said.
With roughly six different Holyoke middle schools teaming up, making their way to the court in person. One teacher, Alexis Finn, said it’s a big difference already.
"Seeing them become kids again, be kids, socializing, talking to each other, it's been just phenomenal to see the community grow," Finn said.
Lynch said this is a great start and there's only more is to come.
"We may be doing things in the summer here, and will continue rolling through in the fall and winter and spring," Lynch said.