Santa Clara PAL’s athletic programs have previously been the starting point for many great athletes’ careers. Kayla Henson, a PAL softball alumna, is one of those athletes. Now she’s using that skill to give back to the community.
She began her softball career when she was four at Santa Clara PAL. After graduating from Wilcox High School in 2008 and playing for Menlo College, Henson now coaches over 80 girls in a private softball clinic. Building on her success, she’s giving back to the Santa Clara community she grew up in by holding softball camps where all proceeds go to charity.
Camps are three days long and give softball players practice hitting and playing defense, coached by Henson and her assistants. Henson held a previous camp in July where over $8,000 was raised to set up a trust fund for three children whose mother had died. After a successful first camp, Henson held a second one earlier this month. This time, the proceeds were shared by a Palo Alto boy fighting cancer and a young girl suffering from cerebral palsy. By the end of the camp, over $6,000 was raised for the children.
Why softball camps? Beyond raising money for charities, Henson believes this is an excellent opportunity to get the players some extra practice and coaching. “I played for 18 years and I do it for a living,” Henson explains. “I think that is a great way to keep girls in shape, keep them out of trouble. They have the same dream I did: Go to college and…go the farthest you can.”
Henson hopes to continue holding camps for various charities, including an additional one in the fall. “I think Santa Clara has good talent,” she says.
She’s passionate about giving back to the Santa Clara community where her softball career began. “[Henry Schmidt Park] is the first field I ever played softball at,” Henson recaps. “So, I came back to try to give back to where I started… Community, as a whole, is to stay together, play together, and you help each other out. Just like a family,” she says, adding, “Santa Clara is a family.”