Birmingham, Ala. - The SEC sponsors Community Service Teams for all 21 league sponsored sports. The Community Service Team looks to highlight an athlete from each school who gives back to their community in superior service efforts. The 15th annual women's soccer Community Service Team follows:
Nealy Martin, Alabama
Throughout her time at the University of Alabama, Nealy Martin has accumulated 214 volunteer hours, more than any other member on the soccer team. The bulk of her hours come from assisting on mission trips - Nicaragua in 2017 and Costa Rica in 2018. During both trips to the Nicaraguan Refugee Camp and Costa Rica, she aided in community restoration. Martin also led the SAAC Halloween Extravaganza, which is the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She set up the whole event, created games for the athletes to play, and interacted with community members in the creation of the party. Most recently, she volunteered in helping to fundraise for the Lee County Tornado Relief, a small county of Alabama located about three hours west of Tuscaloosa and UA.
Taylor Beitz, Arkansas
Taylor Beitz was a member of various Arkansas groups, including Sweat-Hogs, Book-Hogs and Reading with the Razorbacks, where she donated clothing and books and read books to younger children in the area. She also visited veterans on Valentine's Day at the Arkansas Veterans Hospital and cleaned wheelchairs, gave out hats and conversed with families at the Arkansas Children's Northwest Hospital. Lastly, she spent time and played with kids at the Bentonville Boys and Girls Club earlier this year. Taylor is an executive chair member of the SAAC (student athlete advisory committee), overseeing the health and wellness portion (HAWG).
Maggie Van Thullenar, Auburn
Maggie Van Thullenar has been heavily involved in community service even before stepping foot on the Auburn campus earlier this summer. The rehab and disability major currently works specifically with Best Buddies of Auburn, serving as an associate member of the organization. In her role, she helps organize events for and socializes with people with special needs. Similar to her work with Best Buddies, Van Thullenar also recently participated in Auburn's SHINE prom and helped provide a memorable night for special needs children. Most notably and even predating her enrollment at Auburn, the freshman goalkeeper has personally sponsored a child in Haiti for the last two years. In August of 2018, she was able to meet her sponsor, Chednaica, and her family on a mission trip to Haiti during which she helped build a school, fed the homeless and handed out supplies in the village towns. Van Thullenar receives pictures and updates from Chednaica and her family on a regular basis.
Alyssa Howell, Florida
Since the fall of 2018, Alyssa Howell participated in six different community service activities for a total of 184 hours. These activities include visiting Baby Gators to play with the children, participating in the Gators' 2018 Homeless Donation Drive and delivering footwear for the Gator Student-Athletes annual Gator Tracks shoe drive for area elementary children. Howell aspires to be a veterinarian. The majority of her volunteer hours were earned at the Dr. Custis Veterinary Hospital where she assisted the veterinarian, ran different tests, prepped patients and monitored patients post sedation. She also volunteered at the Alachua County Humane Society and at Victoria Farms, which also provides veterinarian services. At Victoria Farms, she assisted with the veterinarian's work with cattle, monitored calves, rans tests and helped groom horses.
Ashley Andersen, Georgia
Ashley Andersen is not only a leader on the team, but in the community and around campus as well. Her bubbly personality and kind heart are infectious. On top of maintaining a 3.87 GPA and earning a spot in the starting lineup, Andersen is in her second year as a member of L.E.A.D., the UGA Athletic Association's Leadership Academy. Andersen is a mentor at Barrow Elementary School where she meets with her mentee during lunch or recess once a week to offer encouragement and friendship. She is very active in SAAC (Student-Athlete Advisory Committee) where she participates in the Special Olympics baseball game at UGA and Empty Bowl Project, in addition to her involvement in Relay for Life. During the holidays she participates in 'Our Neighbors Child' to organize and provide gifts in the homes of those less fortunate.
Emma Shields, Kentucky
During the Summer of 2019, Emma Shields was given the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and serve different communities through UK Athletics. Kentucky athletes got to work closely with the organization Ordinary Hero, an extraordinary organization that gives the challenge and opportunity to serve kids, families, and disabled in many different communities. At Entoto Mountain, Emma served food and played soccer with children who are starving and don't receive frequent meals. In the community Korah, Shields heard heart-breaking stories of starving/diseased families where their only source of income was having the parents or children pick out trash and sell on the streets, many living with HIV or leprosy. Shields got to visit "Cure" hospital, where doctors and nurses provide their expert services with no charge to kids in Addis Ababa and villages outside that have no other way to cure their life altering conditions. Now, she is fundraising at home to donate to the organization.
Raven Guerrero, LSU
Raven Guerrero has racked up over 100 hours of community service during her first three and a half years in Baton Rouge. She has spent time volunteering with a wide range of community organizations during her time as a Tiger. One of the main ones is Kids Hope, a program where she helps mentor and tutor children in elementary school. Another program that she has been heavily involved in this year is the Knock Knock Children's Museum. With the KKCM, Guerrero interacts with kids through fun activities that help children learn things. She has also served alongside the Food Pantry and Brown Bag Lunches, two programs that help package boxed lunches and food for the homeless community in Baton Rouge. She helps annually with LSU's move-in day for freshmen each August. A native of San Antonio, Texas, Guerrero has also participated in the MLK Day of Service every January where they build tables and paint murals. This March, she helped setup and run the live auction for Type 1 Diabetes Research.
Gabby Little, Ole Miss
Gabby Little, a two-year captain, has used her platform to make an impact in the Oxford community throughout her four seasons. Among the events and organizations she has donated her time to, Little is a leader in the Rebel soccer team's FNC Park Soccer Buddy program, adopting a local youth team and attending their games and practices as a mentor and role model. She also assisted in the organization and implementation of Ole Miss' Bahamas Relief Drive for Hurricane Dorian, while also volunteering for the Rebel football team's "The Awesome Lemonade Stand", raising money for ALS research. She also takes time to read stories to local school children as part of Ole Miss' "Reading with the Rebels" program, and has volunteered with "Adopt a Basket", supplying thanksgiving meals to families in need. Outside of Ole Miss organized activities, Little also donates her time to The Blake at Oxford, a local assisted living and memory care facility. Little also participated in "Night to Shine", an event hosted by Grace Bible Church of Oxford, which provided a prom-like experience for people with special needs.
MaKayla Waldner, Mississippi State
Makayla Waldner leads the team in community service hours. She has volunteered in Starkville with the Salvation Army's Red Kettle Campaign, multiple fun runs and the Boys and Girls Club. She visited a local elementary school to read to children and worked the carpool line to walk children into class. Waldner also went on a mission trip to Colombia over the summer where she helped build a pool and run soccer camps for children. She visited LeBonheur Children's Hospital to help comfort children and their families. Waldner is active in FCA and the soccer team's representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. She was her teammates unquestioned choice for captain with nearly twice as many votes as MSU's second and third captains.
Izzy Coulter, Missouri
Izzy Coulter has participated in Mizzou Moves, a Mizzou Athletic event where student athletes go to a local elementary school and take over the P.E classes for the day. They teach them about the importance of being active, fueling the body properly, and hydrating. Mizzou Athletics also hosts a Special Olympics where she was partnered up with an athlete and spent the day with them as they compete in different events. Coulter also participated in Inclusive Excellence Mile, an annual University event where she helped unite the community with the university to help foster an environment where everyone is welcomed. Additionally, she goes to the local elementary school classes during their reading time and read them books as an Elementary School Reader. This helps the kids become more confident in their reading abilities by encouraging independent reading by listening to them and help them when they are stuck on a word. Participated in Tiger Food for Friends, a program the athletic department started to help fight food scarcity in the local community. Twice a week she helped collect food from the dining hall and donate it to the St. Francis House. At the Truman VA Hospital she accompanies and transports patients to and from their appointments; assists with clean up and reorganization of patient rooms; oversaw the operations of the ICU waiting room and communicated with visitors to ensure appropriate updates are received.
Ryan Gareis, South Carolina
In her time at the University of South Carolina Ryan Gareis has been a part of Best Buddies and Special Olympics Gymnastics in Columbia, South Carolina. She has volunteered at a family store and has done volunteer coaching with soccer teams in the Naperville, Ill. area. Katie Cousins, Tennessee
Katie Cousins has been an active community servant during her five years at Tennessee. She has worked with local organizations such as the Emerald Youth Foundation, Kicks for Kids, Goals for Girls and the Race Against Alzheimer's, and has logged more than 130 hours of community service since the summer of 2015. Cousins also served as a member of the innovative VOLeaders Academy in 2017-18. The organization uses student-athletes' platforms in sport to positively impact their teams, campuses, and local and global communities. The year-long campaign culminated with a trip to Ecuador, where the VOLeaders completed service projects and interacted with youth through sports and games. Cousins was one of 30 NCAA Division I women's soccer players to be named a candidate for the Senior CLASS Award earlier this semester. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition
Olivia Ausmus, Texas A&M
Olivia Ausmus spearheaded the Aggies' Turn It Gold efforts in 2019. Behind her leadership, Texas A&M raised over $10,000 for Turn It Gold, benefiting the battle against pediatric cancer in 2019 and $50,000 in the last three years. She participated in the "Aggies for Haiti" mission trip in the summer of 2017. Ausmus has been active in The Big Event, the largest, one-day, student-run service project in the nation, assisting in 2017, '18 and '19. She has served as a race volunteer at Erin's Dream Race, a 5K honoring a College Station girl that had her life taken early due to neuroblastoma - the race raises money for Coalition Against Childhood Cancer and Be The Match. Spent three years as a volunteer at Aggie Soccer Youth Camps.
Rebecca Rossett, Vanderbilt
Rebecca Rossett has participated in 70 hours of community service already in the fall semester of 2019. She's helped orchestrate a Field Day benefitting Buena Vista Elementary and a holiday party benefitting Buena Vista Elementary. She's participated in Harris Hillman Classroom Aid as well as the Salvation Army (food preparation, after school tutoring and mentoring). Other community service projects she's participated in have been the Soles4Souls donation drives, Hurricane Harvey donation drive, the Bridge Ministry, Vanderbilt University Dance Marathon, Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital and West Nashville Dream Center (food distribution and interacting with kids). Rossett has orchestrated the drive for Vanderbilt soccer to adopt a Miracle Child from the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. She's coordinated and set the Commodores up with their Miracle Child, Maddy. Maddy and her family have been invited and a part of the Vanderbilt soccer team during a soccer game. Maddy delivered the game ball and was on the bench during warm ups before Vanderbilt's game against Texas A&M. Rebecca Rossett has set up a donation form for Dance Marathon with an end goal of $3,000.