When Trevor Petersen urged his team to take the field Friday night, he did it a little more carefully than normal.
The Pine Tree High School head baseball coach led the team barefoot to highlight the need to donate footwear for vulnerable children through Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls®. As his players took their positions, the reality of not wearing shoes hit him quickly: “We have burr stickers in our grass. It was fun avoiding those.”
More than 300 people turned out for the game against Whitehouse High School from Tyler. Whitehouse Coach Dan Jenkins also went barefoot for the cause when heard what Petersen was doing.
Sixty-six pairs of shoes were donated for children locally through Shoes for Orphan Souls, and more than $600 was given to purchase even more footwear. The game provided an ideal lead-in for the May Shoes for Orphan Souls drive in Longview.
“It’s two programs known for success,” Petersen said. “It was a good game. You put an event on with Buckner and have two teams known for their baseball, and fans are going to come.”
The effort embodies Petersen’s approach to teaching and coaching. The effort excited the Pine Tree High School Booster Club as well as the team itself.
“Coaching is about more than winning and losing games,” he said. “It’s about teaching kids about the game of life. I didn’t have any hesitation about doing it. Giving back is a trait I’d love my kids to learn from me and the game.”
Buckner Ministry Engagement Coordinator Sarah Beasley appreciates Petersen’s willingness to be a leader who advocates for children. Because of him, young people in the Longview area will have hope through Buckner.
“We really appreciate Coach Petersen and his show of support for his players and his community,” she said. “Through this event, he was able to inspire his players and district to give back. His actions this one night will help vulnerable children throughout the Longview area.”
The effort was a lot of fun, Petersen said. He’s grateful he can help others. The barefoot game may well be the start of a new Pine Tree tradition.
“I’m really looking forward to next year,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
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