Nicole Chipego wants to play it forward.
When Chipego heard about the devastation caused by tornadoes in Oklahoma in early June, she knew she wanted to help children whose lives were turned upside down by the storm. So she began planning an adult softball tournament to benefit the Moore, Oklahoma Little League.
The two-day Field of Dreams Co-Ed Softball Tournament will be held Labor Day weekend and proceeds from the entry fees and raffle ticket sales will all benefit the Little League organization in Oklahoma.
“It’s important when kids love something, that they’re able to keep playing, especially when there is chaos going on,” she said. “It gives kids an outlet.”
The 32-year-old mom and softball enthusiast of Noxen knows firsthand the important role sports can play in the lives of children. After all, she’s been playing softball on local teams for more than 20 years.
“I can’t remember not playing,” said Chipego. “I’ve always been good at it. And my whole family played - my mom, my dad and my three sisters.”
The Lake-Lehman graduate played softball for her high school team, winning awards for her prowess on the field. She also had an opportunity to play in the National Pro Fastpitch Professional Women’s Softball League for the New York/New Jersey Juggernaut in the early 2000s.
“[I] got invited to play,” said Chipego. “It was a two-day tryout with 150 girls playing each day. They picked 20 girls out of all of them.”
But now Chipego has traded in her pro status to play on two local teams and coach her daughter, 5-year-old Hannah, through her first T-Ball season with the Badgers, part of the Bob Horlacher League.
“Hannah also comes with me to my games, and I like to keep involved in the benefit tournaments,” she said.
The tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma hit close to home for Chipego because she spent time in nearby Norman when her father was working on natural gas and petroleum pipeline construction.
“We lived there for a year, and my sisters went to the schools that were affected,” she said.
Chipego can’t imagine life without sports and hopes to instill that same passion in her daughter.
“I think participating in any type of team sport helps build good character and helps develop your decision making skills,” she said. “For me, it’s definitely helped me with my people skills - I meet new people from all over. It also helps you feel like you’re a part of something bigger.”