By Marjorie Acosta
Kaitlyn Stolzenberg has been playing soccer since she was four years old. As one of the top players for the Cooper City Cobras, being part of a team has taught her more than just the fundamentals of soccer. Kaitlyn is always striving to do more. Last year she traveled overseas to play in a world tournament to improve her skills; what she found was a greater calling.
During the tournament Kaitlyn met the boys youth soccer team from Haiti. She was impressed with their skills on the field, but was blown away by their dedication. She learned that back in Haiti they played barefoot because they don’t have the resources for proper equipment. “It was unbelievable and it kind of made me think about it for a minute. How much I have and how much others don’t have. I had to think about it for a minute because all we want is what we want, and it’s just not fair” says Kaitlyn as she thinks back on her experience with the team.
Kaitlyn wasn’t the only one moved. Her mother, Lori Stolzenberg remembers the impact the encounter had on her daughter saying, “I noticed she was looking down at her own cleats thinking she has nice cleats. And she was like you know what I have to do something about this. So when we came back home she approached me and I thought what a great idea.”
With her mom on board Kaitlyn started her foundation, Kait’s Kleats. Her goal was to reach out to her community and collect as much equipment as possible to help the boys youth team from Haiti. She put all the pieces together and headed straight for Cooper City Park. Head Coach of the Cooper City Cobras, Phil Zayas remembers the day it all began saying, “I saw this box, this blue box at our park, and everyone’s dropping cleats in it. And the box just kept getting filled and getting filled.”
What started off as just an idea, soon gathered a huge following. The community jumped right in to help Kaitlyn reach her goal. The response was overwhelming, even to Kaitlyn as she collected hundreds of cleats in her very first try.
As Kaitlyn gets ready to make college visits, and makes plans for her upcoming senior year of high school, she’s making sure Kait’s Kleats grows right along with her. She is expanding her efforts to help those in South America. She’s already made contacts in Honduras. Kaitlyn’s ultimate goal is to have a global foundation.
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