Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Pinecrest Academy senior Erik Hegeman sits among the baseball equipment he has collected on behalf of the nonprofit organization he started in 2007 called Mitts For Kids. The equipment will be distributed to children during a mission trip to Nicaragua in May.


Pinecrest Senior Uses Love Of Game To Help Others

By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published May 10, 2012

An avid sports fan and athlete, Pinecrest Academy senior Erik Hegeman has used his passion to help less fortunate kids.

Participating in sports since he was in the first grade, Hegeman has continued the trend, playing baseball and football while attending Pinecrest Academy.

A turning point for the 18-year-old came a few years ago when his baseball team traveled to a poor neighborhood south of Atlanta. His team had uniforms, along with the best shoes and equipment. The team they were playing had no uniforms and one bat for the entire team to share.

This experience inspired Hegeman to start his own nonprofit organization in 2007 called  Mitts for Kids. Its focus is to gather and provide baseball equipment and clothing to underprivileged kids across the country and beyond.

“Last year we had a drive where we sent all our stuff down to Nicaragua with our seniors,” Hegeman said, referring to the school’s annual mission trip. “Just seeing the pictures of the kids’ faces when they get these gloves is amazing.”

“I’m excited because I’m going to be going down there probably this year so I can bring it down myself,” he added.

In addition to helping the larger community, Hegeman has found a home in the Pinecrest community as well. Having attended the private school for many years, he feels he has grown up with the school and has experienced its growth and changes firsthand.

“There is a very family-based community here. Everyone knows each other; it’s very tight-knit,” Hegeman said. “I’ve seen Pinecrest grow up just like I’ve grown up.”

Hegeman particularly likes the smaller class sizes, as he knows his classmates and teachers better. The developing sports programs also allow more people to become involved with sports as well, he said.

In the fall Hegeman will attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. His appointment to the academy was an honor.

“I’m very excited. It was a great honor to receive an appointment, and I’m looking forward to excelling at West Point,” he said.

His academic interests gravitate toward the sciences, and he is interested in studying medicine in the future, as his favorite class is advanced placement biology. While West Point is known for math and engineering, he knows they also have a solid pre-med studies program, which will help him prepare for medical school down the road.

Thoughts of the future are exciting for Hegeman though he knows he will miss his family and anticipates an adjustment living away from them in the fall. “Thinking about all the stuff that’s coming ahead—the real world is kind of scary to think about,” he confided. “But I’m also excited to get out there and provide for myself.”

In order to be successful in high school, Hegeman suggested that students set goals for themselves and avoid any fear of trying new things and pursuing what they love.

“You have to stay focused and stay driven,” he said. “If you have something that you want to do, don’t be afraid to pursue it with everything you have.”