Incoming Western Nebraska Community College softball player Lexi Butterfield’s heart was golden recently back home in Utah.
Butterfield, who is a pitcher and utility player for Lehi High School in Utah, took it upon herself to help raise funds to help the Orem High School softball team after their field was vandalized with sayings and vulgar graphics the last weekend in May.
Butterfield said she felt compelled to help out the Orem softball team.
“With what happened to Orem, it started with me and my mom (Codi Butterfield) talking about how could someone do this and then thinking I wanted to do something for them so they know the Lehi community is there for them,” she said. “It was very special to me cuz I wanted the Orem girls to know that I was there for them and wanted to help in any way I could.”
What happened to the Orem softball diamonds is unexplainable with the vandalism that occurred during all the protests that were going on during the last two weeks. The Orem dugouts and backstop were damaged with spray paint and vulgar words.
Tim Kennedy, the Lehi Pioneers softball coach, said he wanted to do something, but didn’t have time with another project he was working on. So, Butterfield took it upon herself to raise funds for Orem, which is just 18 minutes south of Lehi High School. Orem is located just north Brigham Young University.
“Two weeks ago [Friday night] the Orem High School softball field dugouts were vandalized with graffiti and racial slurs,” Kennedy said. “By the time I called the softball coach that Saturday afternoon to see how our team could help, they were already in the process of being cleaned up. I was very busy at the time trying to get some ‘friendlies’ approved to play some teams in our region. Orem high is in our region. Since we couldn’t go help remove paint. Lexi decided to start a fundraiser to help pay for cleaning supplies or whatever they needed.
“A week later, I got the ‘friendlies’ approved by our school district. I scheduled a game to play at Orem yesterday [June 10] so Lexi could present the money on our team’s behalf. I had no idea how much was raised until five minutes before the game started. She raised $500 and the money was gifted to Orem Softball after the completion of the game.”
Butterfield’s positivity helped with all the negative elements the United States is facing over the death of George Floyd and all the protests taking place. Butterfield said everyone needs to come together during this time.
“I think it really matters to be positive in the darkest of times and we can come together and help people in anyway we can,” she said.
Kennedy said what Butterfield did was way more important than the outcome of the friendly game; in which Lehi won 17-6 in five innings. It was a friendly game for the seniors to play one last game and be recognized considering their senior seasons were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Butterfield presented the check of nearly $500 to Orem head coach Pablo Barker-Valdez and she felt warmth in helping out in a positive manner.
“Do to the pandemic, we didn’t get a season for high school so both Orem [softball coach] and my coach, Tom Kennedy, put on this game so us seniors got a chance to play some games,” she said. “After donating the money to Orem, I feel like this made our relationship with Orem stronger.”
Butterfield said the Orem players and coaches were grateful.
“They had excitement in their eyes and relief,” Butterfield said. “It was exactly the reaction I was hoping it would be.”
Butterfield said she raised the funds through social media and before long, she had plenty of help.
“How I raised it was I put up the pictures of what happened to their field and spread it throughout my social media,” she said. “People from all over helped donate to them.”
Kennedy said the game on Wednesday was to honor the seniors like Butterfield, but it turned out much more.
“There is so much negativity going on right now. It was the right thing to do,” he said. “The outcome of the game didn’t matter. Lexi is a senior and had her senior season taken away by the COVID virus. She wanted to give back to the game and her community and found a way to do it. Lexi was a 4-year starting pitcher and actually pitched the first game of the year as a freshman after the team was only one year removed from back-to-back state championships. No pressure. She’s a great kid and it’s been awesome to see her growth.”
Helping out in the community is not uncommon for Butterfield, who has done plenty of community service projects throughout high school in Utah.
“I helped with a foundation called Heart to Home where they help people remodel houses for underprivileged people,” she said. “Also with basketball, we went to nursing homes and helped the elderly with everyday things.”
Kennedy said Butterfield is a leader on and off the field in whatever she does.
“Not only is she a remarkable young woman on the field, Lexi is a leader off the field,” her high school coach said. “She gives local girls pitching lessons to help them with the love of softball and is always looking for ways to serve. She’s always smiling and making those around her happy! She does an amazing job in making others feel part of everything! She understands what it takes to be a great team mate.”
Kennedy said Butterfield will succeed when she comes to WNCC in August for college.
“I don’t know too much about their roster, but Lexi is a multi-sport athlete and was on the runner-up state championship basketball team,” she said. “I’d expect her to contribute in one fashion or the other.”
For now, Butterfield is competing with her summer traveling softball team, getting ready for her move to the college level in the fall for WNCC.
“With travel ball, we have been practicing and been going to a couple tournaments,” she said. “We are going pretty well just taking in all the ball we can. I am very excited to go and continue my softball and education career at WNCC.”