Following a year impacted heavily by the COVID pandemic, Eastern Wayne Middle School coaches and administrators went to work to make sure that student-athletes were back on the court or field this season.
However, they quickly realized that they did not have enough equipment and enough of the right sizes for Eastern Wayne’s various athletic programs.
So, in stepped Eastern Wayne’s physical education teacher Donta Lewis. Lewis is in his first year teaching at Eastern Wayne Middle School, but he has a long history with the school.
Lewis, who also coaches soccer and baseball at Eastern Wayne, graduated from Eastern Wayne in 2006, played multiple sports, and helped Eastern Wayne win multiple conference championships.
“This is home to me. Goldsboro has always been my home,” Lewis said. “I like to serve in my community and change my community and do what I can to make an impact.
“So, when I became the P.E. teacher here, I knew I had to do something.”
Recognizing that Eastern Wayne did not have the proper equipment, Lewis decided to reach out to the local Dick’s Sporting Goods located on Berkeley Mall Ring Road to see if Dick’s Sporting Goods can help through its Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.
The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation offers a number of grants to help athletic programs across the country and is a firm believer that sports play a vital role in teaching children fundamental values like a strong work ethic, teamwork, and good sportsmanship.
Lewis and Eastern Wayne athletic director Jennifer Fricks then put together a proposal and met with Dick’s Sporting Good’s General Manager Mike Piotrowski to discuss how Dick’s Sporting Goods can help Eastern Wayne get new equipment.
After Piotrowski visited the school and went on a tour of Eastern Wayne’s athletic facilities to see what Eastern Wayne needed to improve in its athletic programs, he helped make sure that Eastern Wayne had all the right information to apply for the grant.
“A few weeks later, he (Piotrowski) called us back and said that he was able to help us out with $10,000,” Fricks said. “Which was a huge surprise because we were going to welcome anything we could get, but obviously, $10,000 is huge.”
Inside the Eastern Wayne gymnasium on Monday afternoon, Piotrowski presented the $10,000 check to the school.
The grant is a boost in the arm for Eastern Wayne, which will now use the $10,000 to buy new equipment for its various athletics programs, which in turn will help get more and more kids involved in sports.
“We want to make sure we have what they need, so that will help attract other students to want to come out and help grow our sports programs,” Fricks.
Lewis is excited to get sports back on track at Eastern Wayne Middle School, and while the grant money will undoubtedly help, Lewis said there is still a lot of work to do, but he is happy to provide the student-athletes with all the equipment they need to enjoy to playing sports.
And as National Football League Hall of Famer Deion Sanders once said, “If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good.”
“It is nice to see that sports are coming back around,” Lewis said. “I want that Warrior pride back invested into the school because when I was back in school, we took pride and took heart in the school, so I’m trying to bring the heart back into the community.”