Passion for softball leads to a passion for people

Kelly Stumper’s passion for softball is credited with a new Tempe program that provides equipment to kids who can’t afford it.

A 13-year-old softball player has inspired a new Tempe program that aims to provide softball and baseball equipment to young players who cannot afford their own gear. 

Kelly Stumper, a former Tempe LadyHawks softball player and current Arizona Hotshots 97 catcher, has always had a passion for softball.

At a young age, however, financial difficulties meant her family was not always able to purchase the equipment she needed to play. Since then, Kelly has made it a point to donate the items she has outgrown so that other kids don’t have to go without the proper gear as she once had to. 

In an effort to give other players and families the chance to join her cause, Kelly approached her mom with the idea of an equipment collection and exchange that would give youth the opportunity to safely enjoy the sport she loves.

LadyHawks Softball learned of the idea and immediately jumped on board with Kelly’s plan by creating Captain Kelly’s Closet at Tempe Public Library.

“I wanted to help kids get the equipment they need to play softball and baseball, and I thought my teammates and coaches would want to help, too,” said Kelly.

“At first, I just planned on having my mom help me call all the people we knew through softball and ask for their donations, but now with LadyHawks Softball helping, I think we can make a much greater impact. If kids want to play ball, not having the right gear shouldn’t be a reason to stop them.”

Donations can be dropped off at the Recreation office on the second floor of the Tempe Public Library, 3500 S. Rural Road, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Captain Kelly’s Closet will officially begin distributing equipment to youth from 9 a.m. to noon. Saturday, Aug. 13, at Jaycee Park in Tempe. The Closet will then be open to the public every month after that at various locations. 

Information: Russ Baker at 480-350-5233 or russell_baker@tempe.gov , or www.tempe.gov/sports/captainkelly.htm .

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