A lot of the stories out there at the moment in the sports media world are pretty sad, from deaths to people struggling to event cancellations and more. Rhiannon Potkey’s story is anything but. A few years back, Potkey quit her full-time job as a Tennessee football beat writer to go freelance (she currently writes for several outlets, including D1softball.com) and gain more time to work on her newly-launched “Goods4Greatness” non-profit, which seeks to get donated sports equipment to schools and community programs that need it, breaking down financial barriers that prevent kids from competing in sports. Goods4Greatness has really taken off recently, and that led to a lovely profile of Potkey and the non-profit from Teresa Walker of The Associated Press. Some highlights from that:
Assistant Principal Sharif Ford knew just who to call when an athlete at East St. Louis High School in Illinois needed a new pair of shoes. The same woman helped a high school junior outside Chicago secure a sparkling new kit as she chases a scholarship to play college soccer.
Rhiannon Potkey also sent equipment to high school tennis coach Jarrett Walls in North Carolina, given that the cost of a new racket, even an inexpensive one, can keep would-be players from ever stepping on a court.
…“The kids that have been blessed through Rhiannon’s foundation need help like yesterday,” Ford said. “When I jump on the phone with her and I explain to her the need, her past responses have been immediate attention, and that’s what we need.”
…As a sports writer, Potkey saw the inequities covering high schools where wealthy parents showered their athletes with brand-new gear while only a few miles away parents stopped work in the strawberry fields to watch their children play games while sharing old equipment.
Potkey knows other organizations are doing similar donation efforts.
“It’s not enough,” Potkey said of her plan that she first wrote down in a three-ring binder in high school. “There’s always more, like we need an ecosystem. We need everyone. And so, I mean, I can fill gaps where other places don’t get to. So that was kind of the genesis of it was just my own experiences and seeing it.”
And here’s a video accompanying the story:
— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) February 14, 2021
The whole piece is worth a read for discussions of both the philosophical and the practical components of this non-profit. On the latter front, one particularly smart approach is that Potkey reduces the amount of money spent on shipping by trying to find groups in need near whoever’s donating surplus equipment. And on the former front, it’s quite something to read about Potkey’s passion for this and how her time covering high school sports and the inequities present there really motivated her. In fact, she tells Walker “I wish that this was something where I could just do it 24 hours a day because I feel like there’s so much more need that I could help.” Here’s more from Goods4Greatness’ site on what they’re trying to do:
Goods4Greatness wants to ensure all children have the chance to play sports regardless of income level. Equipment costs can often be the difference in whether a child is able to reap the benefits of sports that go far beyond the playing field. That is where we can help.
The idea for Goods4Greatness started in a high school classroom more than 20 years ago. It was a dream of Founder and Executive Director Rhiannon Potkey that she jotted down in a spiral notebook.
…Rhiannon wanted everyone to experience the power of sports. She didn’t want financial circumstances to hinder a child’s ability to play.
Once she became a journalist, her idea for the nonprofit gained even more urgency. She covered all levels of sports and saw the disparities at a greater degree.
Teams and college programs in better economic circumstances would cycle through balls, bats, rackets and shoes on what seemed like a monthly basis. Meanwhile, teams from less fortunate circumstances would go years without quality gear.
Why not bridge that divide? Why can’t the more affluent players donate their used equipment to the less fortunate players?
Goods4Greatness does that.
That’s a laudable goal, and one that may wind up being quite important in helping the sports landscape become more equitable. And Potkey has received significant support from a lot of high-profile schools and athletes. Here are some tweets on that front:
.@DukeCoachYoung and her program have given back so much to help low-income girls in their community play softball. They have inspired them through their kindness and donations to @Goods4Greatness. #GiveBackPayForward pic.twitter.com/9plK0tUBIG
— Rhiannon Potkey (@RPotkey) February 11, 2021
— Goods4Greatness (@Goods4Greatness) February 4, 2021
Happy National Girls & Women in Sports Day!
— Goods4Greatness (@Goods4Greatness) February 3, 2021
— Goods4Greatness (@Goods4Greatness) February 1, 2021
— Goods4Greatness (@Goods4Greatness) January 25, 2021
You are the one changing lives Rhiannon… so happy we could play a small part. Thx for all you do!!! https://t.co/UjXec3nnMH
— Julie Foudy (@JulieFoudy) December 23, 2020
This non-profit is a terrific idea, and Potkey is doing an amazing job with it. And it’s tremendous to see Walker and the AP spotlight an effort like this. The sports world feels awfully rough at times, especially during this pandemic, but there are still great moments of hope, and this is one. Those looking to get involved can find more information at Goods4Greatness’ donate page, and donations of both money and equipment are very helpful for them.