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Plant High students form Dinking for Donations to benefit charities

While pickleball is not yet a high school sport — although one day it just might be — it is becoming increasingly popular with teenagers. Nowhere is that more evident than at Plant High where three seniors formed a club.

Dinking for Donations was founded by football players Trey O’Malley and Chase Jarett, along with soccer player Kelsey Coffey. The impetus came from Kelsey’s mother, math teacher Mare Coffey.

About two years ago Coffey began playing pickleball at Hillsborough Community College with her friends and her daughter. She often talked about pickleball, especially with her teacher’s assistant, Plant’s quarterback Trey O’Malley.

“Our standing joke was that old people played pickleball,” Coffey recalled. “Well, I finally got him and his big bad football buddies to go out and play. Suddenly, everyone was hooked and playing several times a week.”

“I started playing and it was so much fun,” said O’Malley, adding that some of his classmates “thought it was pretty cool and they started to come out.”

O’Malley, football teammate Chase Jarrett and Kelsey discussed organizing pickleball fundraisers for charities. The students, who now are seniors, founded Dinking For Donations with fundraisers and events benefiting Tampa Bay area organizations in need.

Over the past two years, the non-profit organization has hosted pickleball tournaments for such charitable groups as Metropolitan Ministries, A Kids Place Foster Home and Camp Chaos Big Paw Rescue.

In late October, the students organized a food drive for Metropolitan Ministries in conjunction with the monthly Girls Night Out where local women from a meet-up group play at the HCC courts.

Trey O’Malley and Chase Jarrett, football teammates at Plant, are bound for Florida State where they intend to form a pickleball club similar to what they’ve done at their high school.

“Donations were overflowing at the collection bins,” Coffey said, adding that after Thanksgiving a toy drive is planned, as well as other events after the high school sports seasons finish.

“The pickleball community is such a welcoming and fun environment where any age and level can play,” Coffey said. “So the lesson here to the young people is if you see a mature’ person with a knee brace on the pickleball courts, watch out because they will probably beat you. Just ask Trey, Chase and Kelsey.”

Plant High students Kelsey Coffey, Trey O’Malley and Chase Jarrett are co-founders of Dinking for Donations on campus.

O’Malley and Jarrett plan to attend Florida State and try to make the football team as walk-ons. O’Malley said they intend to set up a pickleball club on campus that donates to charities, similar to the one at Plant.

Pickleball players from Girls Night Out at Hillsborough Community College brought nonperishable food items as part of a Dinking for Donations fundraiser.

As for what happens to the Dinking for Donations club at Plant, O’Malley said, “I do think it will stay alive.”


Times Total Media Correspondent

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