---- — By Jon Gerardi
The Daily Item
Seven years ago, the Amateur Softball Association of Pa. Hall of Fame opened its doors for the first time in Sunbury and administrative director Kathaleen Persing got the opportunity to work alongside U.S. Olympic gold medalist softball player Crystl Bustos.
The 2008 Softball Player of the Year attended the Hall of Fame's opening and helped put on mini clinics for high school kids at the time.
Now, Bustos is returning to Sunbury and helping Persing again, this time at the grand opening of the ASA of Pa. Youth Training Center, part of a 50- by 160-foot addition onto the ASA of Pa. Hall of Fame building on Race Street.
Bustos -- a designated hitter and shortstop -- will be at the grand opening on Saturday, Jan. 19, to partake in two sessions for girls between the ages of 10 and 18 -- one from 9 a.m. until noon and the second from 1:30 until 4:30 p.m.
Those wishing to participate in the clinic must register beforehand by contacting Persing either by phone at 286-7670 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who attend the clinics are sure to gain valuable softball knowledge from one of the game's finest, Persing said.
"They will be experiencing the opportunity to have an Olympic gold medal champion (and) MVP instruct them," Persing said. "They will be getting the best coaching instruction from one of the best ever."
Bustos' ability to train with girls of all ages is something that is helpful for the clinics that feature a range of girl's softball players between the ages of 10 and 18.
"It's extremely beneficial (to attend). She can be working with a 10-year-old and instructing them at the level they need to be instructed at and then turn around and talk to an 18-year-old and immediately step it up to that level of instruction," Persing said. "The advice and experience that she can share with these girls, it will be amazing for them. It will be a great lifetime experience."
Bustos was a three-time Pan-American gold medalist (1996, 2003, 2007) and was also a World Cup champion in 2006 and 2007.
Bustos won a gold medal in softball at the 2000 Sydney games and again at the 2004 Athens games before taking silver at Beijing in 2008.
The training center added room for seven batting cages and pitching areas in addition to extra training centers for not only softball, but baseball as well.
"I encourage the local citizens of Sunbury to check it out. It's a really wonderful opportunity to have this Hall of Fame and Training Center right in the city of Sunbury," Persing said. "It really is a big deal and we'd like to encourage our own people to check it out. It's a youth training center for girls and boys, and that's something new with the addition and it's definitely for softball and baseball."
The two clinics will bookend the grand opening/ribbon cutting ceremony at noon, which is open to the public.
Others attending the ribbon cutting ceremony include Sunbury mayor and ASA Deputy State Commissioner David Persing (Kathaleen's husband); State Rep. Lynda Schlegel-Culver, R-108, Sunbury; and ASA of Pa. State Commissioner Andrew Loechner.
David Persing helped bring the ASA of Pa. Hall of Fame and Training Center to the city.