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Superior senior's project benefits student athletes

Shoes for Spartans collects sports-specific athletic shoes for students to use.

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Senior Paige Sanders has been involved in athletics since she was 4 years old. Her senior project is focused on supplying sports-specific shoes to student athletes.
Contributed / Rhonda Miller of WindsorSnaps Photography

SUPERIOR — A Superior High School senior is connecting student athletes with the sports-specific shoes they need to compete as part of her senior project.

Through her Shoes for Spartans initiative, Paige Sanders collects and cleans used athletic shoes in good condition. The shoes are available free of charge to students who need them. There is no income limit; any student can request footwear.

"It was really important for me to help make this as accessible as it could be to anybody, which is why they’re available not only for no cost, but anybody is eligible,” Sanders said.

Students just ask their coach for shoes, and they’ll be provided. The only thing Sanders asks is that each athlete returns the borrowed footwear for future Spartans to use.

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Superior High School senior Paige Sanders sits beside the athletic shoes she collected the first day of her Shoes for Spartans initiative. For her senior project, she is collecting athletic shoes for Spartan athletes to use.
Contributed / Paige Sanders

Community members, athletes and former students have stepped up to donate. To date, Sanders has amassed 50 pairs of shoes, including one for every sport she is collecting for. The response has been so great that she is also seeking donations of large storage bins with lids to store the footwear in. The shoes are stored at school, making them accessible to coaches and students.

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“Honestly, my project is now a lot more successful than I anticipated it to be, and I’m really excited to see how it continues to progress,” Sanders told the Superior School Board during its March 7 committee of the whole meeting.

The senior project, which relies on the generosity of the community, was something she saw a need for. Before she tore her ACL in the fall, she was a three-sport athlete and she’s been playing sports since age 4.

“Over the years I’ve seen teammates play with improper footwear, which has not only prevented them from playing to the best of their ability, but increased their risk of injury,” Sanders said. “Although I can’t play sports for the rest of my senior year, I wanted to take this opportunity to give back to the programs that have helped me become who I am today and help my fellow Spartan athletes to succeed.”

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Paige Sanders, Superior High School senior, is collecting sports-specific athletic shoes for fellow students as part of her senior project, Shoes for Spartans. Her graduation picture showcases the sports she has played during her years at SHS.
Contributed / Rhonda Miller from WindsorSnaps Photography

Additional work took place behind the scenes to give Shoes for Spartans a strong foundation to allow the initiative to continue in future years.

“I am lining up a current junior to pass it on to next year,” Sanders said.

Donations are still needed.

“I am looking exclusively for sports-specific shoes, which means I will not be taking normal sneakers,” Sanders said.

Needed footwear includes cleats for football, soccer, baseball, softball and lacrosse; spikes for track and cross country; basketball shoes; wrestling shoes; tennis court shoes; volleyball shoes; and golf shoes. All adult sizes are needed, especially women’s 7-10 and men’s 8-12, which are the most common sizes requested.

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Sanders is also accepting donations of money, 100% of which will go toward cleaning the shoes that are collected, and 20-gallon or larger totes with lids and no cracks.

Donations can be dropped off in the male locker room office to Mr. Kontny at Superior High School or email paigewillow1313@gmail.com to arrange for a pick up/drop off.

Caitlin Knoll, senior project supervisor, told the board that these projects are having an impact on students and the community members they work with.

"It's been really exciting to watch the progression of so many different ideas and so many different projects. Everybody has to do their career research and their community service, but it turns into so many different, cool, personalized things," Knoll said.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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