Senior gives back off the diamond

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02-26-09 Softball
ASU senior Jessica Mape has used her time as a Sun Devil to help raise for familes affected by AIDS and HIV. (Photo Courtesy of the ASU Athletic Department)
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Senior outfielder Jessica Mapes isn’t looking for any sort of recognition.

She’s not the type to boast or brag; hers is a philosophy better explained without words.

It is her passion that speaks, her experience that impresses and the knowledge she has obtained that exceeds her performance on the softball field.

The real story of what this athlete is made of lies not only in her performance, but also in her decisions.

“She brings to the table exactly what we’re trying to instill in all the kids: They’re the lucky ones,” coach Clint Myers said. “The idea of paying back to the community, to people who may or may not be as fortunate as she is — she’s doing something she truly loves, and she takes that passion and that desire off the field.”

Her quiet confidence is inviting, and the humble nature she exudes draws the attention of those around her — this is a girl who knows the benefit of the simple things.

“She’s outstanding with kids,” Myers said. “She’s done a lot of clinics for them. She’s a great instructor. She’s got the patience of a saint: The tradition of ASU is to give back, and to share your experiences with those who might need a little extra help.”

This year, Mapes is working at a preschool on ASU’s Tempe campus, a job she got involved in as a required practicum for her major.

When she finished as a student, they hired her onto the staff and from there, both her opportunity and her passion grew.

“We looked at children and their play behaviors and patterns,” Mapes said. “I did a lot of coding children’s behaviors, and [I] worked on a poster project at the end of the year.”

And she didn’t stop there.

The experience motivated her to continue giving back to the community; this time, in the form of a nonprofit AIDS organization.

Last year, with the support of her team and coach, Mapes organized a benefit for Body Positive — a program that helps families affected by HIV and AIDS — at a regular season softball game.

“We have a deal here that any young lady can bring in ideas,” Myers said. “She brought in the HIV camp idea. We raised somewhere between $500 [and] $1000. She did all the work and all the planning. It was something that was close to her; she felt passion for it, and the girls rallied around her.”

The money the team raised was enough to send one family to Camp Incredible, a camp for families affected by HIV and AIDS, for a week.

And for the senior, it won’t stop with graduation.

Mapes is in the process of applying for an Infant-Family Practice Graduate Program at ASU and, after the time she spent volunteering at Children’s Hospital, is considering working with kids when she finishes her education.

“I was only there for a short time, but I had a big passion for it” Mapes said. “You see these kids who are really sick and to be able to make them smile or make them happy [even] for a little while is very rewarding. Their days are rough and they don’t always know what’s going on at the doctor’s office.”

Mapes and the rest of her team will host this weekend’s Diamond Devil Invitational, where they will face Utah State, South Alabama, Northern Colorado, New Mexico State, Southern Utah and South Dakota State at Farrington Stadium.

Reach the reporter at emiley.darling@asu.edu.