JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The SEC sponsors Community Service Teams for all 21 league sponsored sports. The Community Service Team looks to highlight a student-athlete from each school who gives back to their community in superior service efforts. The 2017 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team is as follows:
Aja Sims, Senior, All-Around, Alabama
Sims has been a part of several service projects while at Alabama, including Habitat for Humanity. She has been a volunteer for the Color Run, the Halloween Extravaganza and the Jingle Bell Run volunteer. Sims also worked on the RISE Holiday Party and Parents Night Out. A member of the President's List and the Dean's List, she is an All-American and Scholastic All-American. Sims, who was the NCAA Seattle Regional Balance Beam Champion, has been named All-SEC and was a part of the 2014 SEC All-Freshman Team.
Heather Elswick, Senior, Vault/Floor, Arkansas
Elswick helped collect household items for the flood victims in Baton Rouge as part of the Operation Baton Rouge event. She participated in the Feed My Starving Children event by packaging nutritious meals for hungry children around the world. Elswick helped in conjunction with Lift Up America to transfer boxes of food and supplies. She participated in Razorback Canned Food Drive, where supplies were brought to local non-profit organizations. Elswick participated in the ALS Walk in Bentonville, Arkansas, to raise awareness for people with the progressive neurodegenerative disease. She supported the Special Olympics Area Games at Ramsey Junior High School in Fort Smith, Arkansas that featured special needs participants. Elswick participated in the Sweat Hogs Kickoff program, which connected student-athletes with local youth to remind them to stay active and its importance. She supervised and taught youth gymnasts during a day of training in the Razorbacks' Bev Lewis Center for Women's Athletics. Elswick took part in Shop with SAAC, where student-athletes raised money throughout the year to purchase holiday gifts for local children and handed out awards at the annual Santa Meet in Arkansas' Barnhill Arena during a youth gymnastics meet. She participated in other canned food drives around Fayetteville, Arkansas as well as the MLK Youth Day, where student-athletes joined children from schools in the area in games and activities. Elswick spends a majority of her time outside of class and practice at UAMS Physical Therapy and the Veterans Home, where she assisting patients. She serves as Vice President of the Arkansas Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Elswick is a three-time selection to the SEC Academic Honor Roll and a two-time selection to the NACGC/W All-Scholar Team.
Kullen Hlawek, Senior, All-Around, Auburn
Hlawek has served on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee throughout her time at Auburn and is currently acting as SAAC President. In her role, she helps organize many community projects that includes the annual Toys for Tots drive around the holiday season. This past fall, Hlawek spearheaded a food drive competition among all Auburn student-athletes that benefited the Auburn University student food pantry. The competition supplied the pantry with enough food to last through the rest of the school year. In July of 2016, she volunteer with Light of the Village and Habitat for Humanity in Mobile, Ala. Overall, Hlawek has been very active in the Auburn community, taking part in the annual Downtown Trick or Treat festival over Halloween. She has visited local elementary schools in November and December and doing gymnastics demos for the students, as well as occasionally greeting elementary students as they arrive to school in the mornings. Hlawek has also volunteered with the Jason Dufner Foundation, stuffing backpacks with food children in the area that are in need.
Grace McLaughlin, Junior, All-Around, Florida
Since August of 2014, McLaughlin has accumulated a total of more than 400 hours of community service. She spent more than 320 hours with the Florida Diabetes Camp in the summers of 2015 and 2016. The Florida Diabetes Camp aims to provide a fun, safe camp environment for children with type 1 diabetes and their families. McLaughlin also participated in "Climb for Cancer" - an event where student-athletes participate in different sports with children who have cancer. She volunteered at UF Health by participating in Caleb's Pitch Syringe Art Painting, where student-athletes paint canvases with pediatric patients at Shands. McLaughlin volunteered at local elementary and middle schools on different occasions to work with the children there. She participated in the Baby Gator Field Day, where Baby Gators and their families raced through obstacles and played outside. In addition, McLaughlin has joined her teammates in an event that aimed to bring awareness and raise funds for the fights against breast cancer. The Gator gymnastics team was at the "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk" in October of 2014, 2015 and 2016. The gymnasts cheered on runners and walkers at the event. She participated in the annual Harvest Food Drive with her teammates in the fall of 2014, 2015 and 2016, an event where aspiring gymnasts can join the Gators for an afternoon gymnastics clinic. Admission is five non-perishable food items and more than 1,600 pounds of food items were contributed to a local food bank in the 2015 and 2016 events.
Morgan Reynolds, Senior, All-Around, Georgia
Reynolds has devoted herself to community service since arriving on campus as a freshman in 2013. Over her four years as a Gymdog, she has volunteered with the "In Her Shoes" walk and "AthHalf" Half Marathon all four years, collected toiletries for homeless, participated in the Feeding America Hunger Bowl canned food drive and helped with Safe Walks to school. For all four years, Reynolds worked with Special Olympics, giving her Monday evenings to assisting the athletes however she can. In 2016, she worked with the Stand Strong with Cam fundraiser for a young man dealing with leukemia. Recently, Reynolds helped the University of Georgia launch the "Build Gales A Dawg House" campaign to raise money to build a handicap-accessible house for former Southern University wide receiver Devon Gales who suffered a spinal injury in a 2015 game at Sanford Stadium. She earned the UGA Athletic Association Inspiration Award for 2015-16 after overcoming a severe case of E. coli to return for the final six meets of 2016 ad perform on floor. Reynolds also received the gymnastics team's Most Inspirational Performance Award for 2016, given for her first performance back on floor at UCLA.
Sidney Dukes, Sophomore, All-Around, Kentucky
Dukes has participated in multiple community service products during the 2016-17 season. This year, she has spent time at local elementary schools, passing out t-shirts and welcoming back students to school while spending time with them. Dukes also traveled to Nicholasville, Kentucky to mentor and spend time with the Kindergartners are Heartland Academy. Along with the majority of the team, she also spent time helping with the Louisiana Flood Relief Food drive.
Sydney Ewing, Senior, Vault/Beam/Floor, LSU
Ewing is the president of LSU's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). She organizes community service events, award ceremonies and various events for student-athletes. Sydney was also on the board her junior season. Ewing has assisted with the Gardere School Project, Halloween Boozar, McMain's Bike Race, and worked at the area food bank after the devastating flooding in August. She has been a part of many visits to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital and in 2016 led a small group Bible study to help fellow students and student-athletes grow in their faith. Ewing is a three-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member and a three-time Academic All-American. The kinesiology major will graduate in May and pursue her master's in occupational therapy at LSU Shreveport.
Becca Schugel, Junior, All-Around, Missouri
In her time at Missouri, Schugel has been a familiar face in the Columbia community. She has spent time volunteering numerous organizations, including extensive hours at the Food Bank for Central and Northwest Missouri. Additionally, Schugel volunteered her time with Ronald McDonald House, Walk to End Alzheimer's, VA hospital, Malted Mile, Mizzou Moves, Lunch Buddies, MKT trail clean up and was a Special Olympics buddy.