Wright City's Sports Closet provides opportunity, equipment for athletes in need

By: 
Brandon Corrigan

WRIGHT CITY – Hammer in hand, Rich Lagemann spent his Friday afternoon building shelves for the Kiwanis Club of Wright City’s newest endeavor.
It’s called the Sports Closet and it’s located at 100 West North Second Street.
The shelves of this ‘closet’ are filled with all kinds of different athletic equipment. There are baseball bats that have been used to smack home runs, football pads strapped on before making game-saving tackles and soccer cleats worn while scoring goals galore.
This assemblage has allowed county athletes to collect a lifetime of memories on the field, though lately most of it has just been collecting dust.
Lagemann is ready to change that.
He knows there’s a lot of life left in this lot of used gear and it can be used to help provide new opportunities that may normally be difficult to come by for low-income families
“I read an article about youth sports that just really stuck with me,” Lagemann, a retired Wright City coach and administrator, said. “Kids in poverty are three to four times less likely to get involved in an athletic activity if there are costs involved for equipment and even if they do get involved, they’re twice as likely to quit once they get older because it becomes more expensive.
“Wright City is doing some great things and the school has some great new athletic programs. We shouldn’t have kids who want to participate, but our stopped because they can’t afford equipment.”
That’s where the Sports Closet comes in handy. The goal is for the space to become a go-to source for supplies.
“It’s a mini-sporting goods store that’s open as needed, but no money is needed,” Lagemann said. “We don’t care who you are. If you need something call us. We don’t have hours, but we’ll set up an appointment and you can come by and look through our things. That’s the plan right now.”
Lagemann said that city officials have been very receptive about his Sports Closet concept. There’s a community donation drive in the works and most of the items currently on-hand at the store were gathered by the Wright City Student Council in a competition during Homecoming Week.
“When I talk to people about this they seem pretty excited,” Lagemann said. “I discussed it at a city council meeting and two council members have already provided donations. Hopefully it can become a point of pride that we have something like this in the community.”
Lagemann’s scoured through sporting goods throughout the St. Louis Metro area to spark ideas about how to best layout the equipment in the store. Providing reliable footwear is one of the biggest priorities in the early going, because the cost of cleats or sneakers is usually the biggest drawbacks for parents.
He estimated that the Sports Closets would officially open sometime later this month.
“Hopefully, we’ll have enough stuff by then, but frankly if someone called me tomorrow I’d say, ‘Hey come on over right now and let’s see what we’ve got.’”
Those interested in donating to the Sports Closet can contact Lagemann at 636-235-2086.
“We all know people who’ve outgrown sporting equipment,” Lagemann said. “What they do with it? It sits in the garage and goes nowhere. So if you have something that’s in decent condition, give it to us. We’ll clean it up and give it to someone else who can use it.”

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