Maize grad, future Olympic softball player spearheads change in her sport
WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Softball is what future U.S. Olympian Kelsey Stewart does, it’s not who she is. The former Maize Eagle has been part of spearheading a change in the sport of softball after pro players left a team and formed their own. This happened after the team’s general manager tweeted a message the players say, did not represent them.
On the field, softball has taken Stewart around the world. The two-time national champion at the Univesity of Florida and All American, now playing professionally and getting the chance to represent Team USA at next summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
The sport she loves has taken Stewart to places she’s always dreamed of going. Now, she wants to take her sport to a new level.
“I can’t be vocal and then when it is something that directly affects me, be quiet,” she said.
Stewart has taken her leadership off the field after the general manager of her now former professional team, Scrap Yard Fast Pitch, tweeted a photo of the team standing during the National Anthem and tagging the president with a caption that read in part, “Everyone respecting the flag.”
In light of recent events across the country, Stewart says she knew she wouldn’t wear a Scrap Yard uniform again. She said the argument isn’t about the flag or the anthem. It’s about athletes having their own voice.
“It felt like she was almost saying black lives didn’t matter when she did that tweet,” Stewart said of the Scrap Yard Fast Pitch GM. “There’s two black women on the team, and for her to even think that was okay bothers me.”
The entire team, a number of which also represent Team USA, left and formed their own team, “This Is Us.”
“This is the first team I have been on where that unity has been unquestioned,” Stewart said.
Eighteen players make up the self-funded team. Their goal is to change the narrative, not only in softball but around the world, to send a message of awareness, empowerment, and unity.
For Stewart and her teammates, this isn’t just a moment, it’s a movement. It’s one that calls out racism and discrimination.
“I’ve seen in my comments, a bunch of little girls saying they want to put down their band and their glove. My message to you is, ‘we are going through this now so you don’t have to deal with that,‘” Stewart said. “I talked about having an army behind you and right now, you have an army behind you and we are going to protect you the whole way.”
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