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Thunderbird High School senior shares time, baseball equipment

The bond between a baseball player and his glove is unlike anything else. Some kids sleep with their first baseball glove under their pillow, some give their glove a name and some won’t let anyone else touch it. But what happens when they outgrow it and it’s time for a new glove? More often than not, that old one gets moved aside, donated or even thrown away.

But Brett Budde, a senior baseball captain at Thunderbird High School, found a better home for his old gloves.

A nominee for the Arizona Sports Character Counts contest presented by Parker & Sons Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, Brett has been traveling to Sonora, Mexico with his teammates and baseball coach Clay Klavitter for the past four years and sharing his love for baseball with underprivileged children.

While there, they run a camp for anywhere from 25-50 little leaguers, mentoring them and teaching baseball skills. Each year before he goes down, Brett organizes donation drives, gathering up old baseball equipment that isn’t being used anymore.

“One time we brought it down and then two years later I went back and I saw one of the little kids using one of my old little league baseball gloves. It hit me really hard. The stuff that meant so little to me, because it’s just a material thing, can mean so much to someone else,” Budde said.“It’s breathtaking. That’s my old equipment. If anything I would throw it away or give it to Goodwill, but it’s being used for a greater purpose now.

Brett has been playing baseball since he was three-years-old, so he understands just how much of an impact it can have on someone’s life.

“Baseball is a game I fell in love with from a very young age. Seeing other people do it too makes me want to share that love I have for it and really see how baseball can change their lives like it changed mine,” Budde said.

Brett knows what it feels like to be on the receiving end of new gear as well. Eric Sogard, the second baseman for the Oakland Athletics, is an alumnus of Thunderbird High School and makes a point out of coming back to his old school and giving back to the baseball program. Each year, he surprises the team with new equipment like cleats, batting gloves and bats.

“Just seeing all he’s done for our community – he doesn’t have to do that, he’s a professional athlete, we could be seen as something that’s not very important,” Budde said. “But he takes the time out of his busy schedule to come and really make us feel special. He takes batting practice with us and groundballs and everything and gives us tips. He’s a mentor to us, too.”

Brett said Sogard’s selflessness really motivates him, and he looks to the major leaguer as a role model.

At 17-years-old, Brett’s accomplishments reach even further than his mission trips to Mexico.

Brett has also volunteered with the Boys Team Charity, Relay for Life and as a little league camp instructor. He ranks in the top four-percent of his senior class with a 4.86 weighted GPA and is a member of National Honor Society and a Student Council officer. On top of that, he is also a captain of the diving team, where he finished in the top 10 at the state diving championships.

As busy as he is, Brett said making time to give back to the community will always be something in the front of his mind.

“I prioritize what I view as most important to me, so giving back is one of my main priorities,” Budde said. “I make sure that I have time to give back to the community while getting my schoolwork done and playing sports of course.”

Character Counts is a registered trademark of the Josephson Institute.