A group of Pittsburg High School (PHS) student-athletes will soon be receiving new shoes thanks to the work of a nationally recognized 1984 PHS graduate, Matt Knoll. Knoll is a three-time NCAA Division I Coach of the Year and was the 2010 recipient of the USD 250 Foundation Distinguished Alumni Award. After being the head tennis coach at Baylor University and leading his team to 21 Big 12 Championships and an NCAA National Championship, Knoll founded American College Placement to help student-athletes find the right university for them to grow their skills in their respective sports. He also serves on the United States Tennis Association National Collegiate Committee.
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How the Dragon Feet Fund started
Knoll approached the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas (CFSEK) with the idea of supporting PHS student-athletes who are on free or reduced lunch and may face difficulty in securing proper equipment. After meeting with CFSEK representatives and PHS Activities Director Jeff Staley, the need for athletic shoes for student-athletes facing financial hardships became a focus point and one that Staley said would make a tremendous difference at PHS.
From that idea, Knoll established the Dragon Feet Fund at CFSEK and hopes the community will help support the fund so that each student-athlete on free or reduced lunch will have the opportunity to receive a new pair of shoes regardless of which sport they play. By partnering with locally owned Jock’s Nitch Sports to purchase the shoes and leverage their relationship with Adidas, financial donations to the Dragon Feet Fund will go even further.
“Having been raised by a single parent, I know first-hand the challenges some families face in providing opportunities for their children,” Knoll said. “To be able to partner with the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas and Dragon Feet to support the amazing group of students on campus today means the world to me and my wife, Shelia.”
“I feel like saying ‘thank you’ is not enough, but I will try,” said Staley. “Due to the support of Knoll, the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas, and Jock’s Nitch, the Dragon Feet Fund has been established. This fund will have a powerful and positive impact on our Dragons at PHS by providing a new pair of sports shoes for those student-athletes who might not be able to afford them otherwise.”
The ultimate goal for the fund is to convert it into an endowment that will provide the same opportunity for these PHS student-athletes forever. Community support will be needed to ensure the fund can achieve its goal.
For anyone interested in supporting the Dragon Feet Fund, visit SoutheastKansas.org/DragonFeet or contact the Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas (620) 231-8897. A variety of donation options are available.