At the end of last October, Dodd Middle School student Cecilia Torres appreciated the opportunity to get a piece of her life back.
For the first time since March, she was able to play organized basketball with the Cheshire Girls Seventh Grade Travel Team.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Torres wasn’t able to compete in games this fall, but there was a special feeling that came with having a ball back in her hands.
“We needed to wear masks and stay as socially distanced as possible. We were really restricted in the things we did, like run plays,” explained Torres, who usually plays at the center position. “We just practiced, but it was great to be playing again.”
When the state mandated that team sports be put on pause until January 19, Torres had her season cut short in late November, but she still found a way to allow other people to have an athletic experience during the holidays.
In creating the “Be a Good Sport” campaign, Torres collected around 65 sports balls and then donated them to the Boys & Girls Club of Great Waterbury and the Hispanic Coalition in Waterbury, as well as to Kelly’s Kids, an after school program in Prospect.
“Sports mean a lot to me,” said Torres, who also plays soccer and volleyball. “One of my coaches says that my performance off the field is more important than my performance on the field. For this (project), I wanted to do something in sports that was also kind.”
Torres originally wanted to run the campaign through Dodd, but when that plan didn’t work out, she decided to organize it on her own. Using the Amazon website, she made a list for people to purchase items and then have them sent to her house for collection.
The list included basketballs, baseballs, footballs, volleyballs, kickballs, and soccer balls.
Torres used social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat, and the Cheshire Community Forum on Facebook, to spread the word about what she was doing.
“People were happy for me,” reflected Torres. “They were proud that I decided to do it.”
Torres set a goal of getting 50 balls, but she received 10 to 15 boxes a day at her house, and she ended up with around 65.
“A lot of balls came rolling in when people started purchasing them,” recalled Torres. “My friends and family donated a lot. Many athletes helped out, and so did people from the Cheshire Community Forum.”
Torres was grateful to get Cheshire’s support for the project.
“We have the best community. They (residents) are very supportive,” stated Torres.
On Dec. 15, Torres dropped off the balls in Waterbury and Prospect.
“They (the organizations) were very thankful. Some places were overwhelmed by the number of items that I brought in,” recalled Torres, who received notes from the Boys & Girls Club and the Hispanic Coalition. “After I donated them (the balls), I felt relieved. People are kind to me, so I like to give back to them.”
With the pandemic still ongoing, Torres felt that it was important to help other people during the holiday season.
“A lot of people are being laid off and can’t provide for their family, so I wanted to give them a chance,” explained Torres.
Going into the new year, she hopes to resume playing basketball and also compete in volleyball.