GAINESVILLE, Fla. (May 10, 2022) - 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 2022 SEC Softball Community Service Team is as follows:
Ashley Prange, Senior, Infield, Alabama
Prange volunteered with the Wheeler Mission Ministries, based out of Bloomington, in their efforts to provide Thanksgiving meals to poor and homeless members of the local community. She and her Crimson Tide teammates also "adopted" a local class of elementary school students, serving as pen pals for the students and stuffed backpacks with needed school supplies as a Christmas gift for the kids.
Danielle Gibson, Senior, First Base, Arkansas
Gibson participated in Miracle League by assisting kids with special needs play baseball and softball. She spent time with the Healthy Hogs Call by going around to local elementary schools and discussing the importance of healthy eating and exercise. In October, Gibson helped make goodie bags and wrote "Thank You" letters for first responders. She has volunteered at the Northwest Arkansas Food Bank and visited local schools to read to students. Volunteering with local missionaries, Gibson has helped cook meals, including Thanksgiving dinners, this year. She volunteered with her church, teaching boys ages 8-12 about life skills. The youths also wrote cards to veterans and learned how to exercise and eat healthy. Gibson was involved with was "Shopping with the Razorbacks Money Donation," where she collected and fundraised money for children to shop for Christmas presents. A member of the 2021 SEC Softball Community Service Team, she has also volunteered with writing letters to the Razorback Foundation members.
Shelby Lowe, Sophomore, Pitcher, Auburn
Lowe is Auburn's team leader in overall hours of community service. She participated in various events, including sorting donations during the Beat Bama Canned Food Drive, gathering gifts and donations for the Salvation Army's Angel Tree project and volunteering her time to work festival booths during local community events. With a passion with working with children, Lowe makes sure to speak to every child and sign every ball follow home events at Jane B. Moore Field.
Kinsey Goelz, Redshirt Senior, Infield, Florida
Goelz is about as enthusiastic as they come when it comes to giving back to people. She has accumulated 25.5 hours of community service this academic year, which includes volunteering with Bread of the Mighty Food Bank, the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, Shands Hospital, Gators Tracks, Keep Alachua Beautiful, Friends of Jaclyn and Trinity United Methodist Church. At Shands Hospital, Goelz helped write cards with positive encouragement and hand delivered them to patients. She participated in the Gators Tracks initiative, where Goelz and other student-athletes wrapped and delivered shoes to kids in need in the area during Christmas time. At Trinity United Methodist Church, Goelz and her teammates helped put together Thanksgiving food baskets for families in need.
Jaiden Fields, Redshirt Junior, Outfield, Georgia
Fields is a member of the leadership academy at Georgia, L.E.A.D., and represents her team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. She has volunteered for Girl Power events, assisted with collections for Bigger Vision Community Shelter, collected items for The Foodbank of Northeast Georgia, and participated in reading programs in the Clarke County School District. Fields also serves as a member of the UGA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She has been a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and earned a spot on the 2021 Third Team NFCA All-Southeast Region Team.
Emmy Blane, Junior, Second Base, Kentucky
Blane has over 150 hours of community service logged in her time as a Kentucky Wildcat, marking her spot as one of the University's greatest ambassadors. She is an active member of the Emerging Leaders program on UK's campus, where she attends classes about leadership on and off the field and teaches others how to be leaders. Additionally, Blane has logged time with the Hopkinsville Community College Foundation, where she assisted the executive director with scholarship fundraising projects. With the HCCF, she printed, sorted, and mailed 750 packets to community members encouraging scholarship donations and put together and distributed bags with back-to-school necessities for HCC students. Blane held the position of Children's Services Intern with New Vista, where she shadowed different clinicians throughout Central Kentucky and experienced therapy sessions with patients dealing with psychosis. With that, she participated in multiple community engagement opportunities, such as teaching a Movement and Mental Health lesson at local elementary and middle schools, working an employment fair tabling event in a Lexington neighborhood, and participating as a youth panelist for the 2021 KY Stop Youth Suicide conference. Blane is also active with the DAM Worth It suicide prevention program on UK's campus, God's Pantry and the local YMCA.
Ali Newland, Sophomore, Outfield/Catcher, LSU
Newland has participated in at least one service opportunity almost every month since the academic year started. She most recently assisted with the Geaux Teal Ovarian Cancer Awareness Walk, which was held on LSU's campus. Newland assisted with registration packets, walk logistics, and outreach with cancer survivors and family members of those who were unable to attend. She has also worked with youth softball clinics with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, assisted with a kindergarten field trip at Tiger Park, MLK Day of Service, and Hams for Fams during November. In September, Newland participated in a Sort and Repack at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, was a part of a volunteer group that painted a mural in the community and assisted with disaster and recovery relief where she helped volunteers load the LSU Football 18 wheeler with supplies. In October, she volunteered at the annual LSU BooZar by running a game station and passed out candy to local area youth. Newland has worked twice during this academic year with Athletes for Hope. Last season, she was named an NFCA Scholar-Athlete and to the 2021 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll. A member of the LSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Newland was one of two student-athletes to represent LSU at the 2021 SEC Career Tour.
Tate Whitley, Senior, Outfield, Ole Miss
Whitley has given back to children in the Oxford-Lafayette community through initiatives such as Reading with the Rebels, where she has visited elementary classrooms to read to students and discuss the importance of good behavior along with her experience as a student-athlete. She has also helped welcome students to school, participating in morning drop-off, and helped celebrate educators through the College Football Playoff's Extra Yard for Teachers Week. During the Thanksgiving holiday, Whitley helped collect and donate 60 baskets to families in need throughout the LOU community as part of the athletic department's annual Adopt-A-Basket service project. She also helped lead the charge on Ole Miss' annual Feed the Sip food drive, helping collect non-perishable food items to donate to elementary schools in Tunica and Quitman County. Whitley serves as a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Ole Miss, helping represent all athletes at the university and enhancing the student-athlete experience.
Allison Florian, Graduate Student, Outfield, Mississippi State
Florian serves as the community and events chair with the student-athlete development department with a focus on increasing student-athlete engagement in the community alongside the Student-Athlete Advisory Council. She developed new events for student-athletes to engage the campus community. This semester, Florian led the M-Club's Bag 'Em Up Bulldogs effort, which passed along goodie bags and letters of encouragement to student-athletes before the first game of their seasons. She also led the women's history month tabling initiative and began creating new projects centered around mental health. Outside the athletic department, Florian was pen pals with a second-grade class in the fall semester, encouraging them to focus on academics and later visited the class for a Q&A session. She visited the J.L. King Center to volunteer with after-school programs and also volunteered with the Bulldog softball team's Community Youth camp, a free clinic for young children in the Starkville area. For her efforts, Florian received the athletic department's community service award for the year at the Bulldogs' annual banquet.
Kimberly Wert, Fifth-Year Senior, Infield/Designated Player, Missouri
Last summer, Wert spent eight weeks working with children as a volunteer softball coach. She assisted with camps and clinics in an effort to grow the game. One of the clinics took place at the little league field Wert played on as a child. She has also visited hospitals, served at a food bank, and spent time at the Thompson Center for Autism.
Kelsey Oh, Graduate Student, Pitcher, South Carolina
Oh is a member of South Carolina's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and served as the marketing and public relations senior officer for two years. She has also served as the softball team's community service liaison since 2019. Oh helps to educate her teammates, alerts them of up-to-date community service opportunities, and aids in raising their community service hours from year to year. She recently volunteered on Election Day, handing out snacks, water, and masks to those waiting in lines in low-income areas. Oh continually collects toiletries donations from the team to donate to Transitions, which is a homeless shelter for men and women in Columbia. During her time with South Carolina, she has often visited with children at Epworth's Children's Home and has participated in Toys for Tots. Oh has spent time during the summer and fall working with a local charter school, reading books to classes and participating in activities with the students both in the classroom and on the playground. She assisted with the Fall Festival presented by Milestones. Milestones is an organization that works to provide memories and experiences to those living in foster care. Oh also taught a self-defense class and volunteered with the Salvation Army.
Samantha Bender, Redshirt Senior, Pitcher, Tennessee
A member of the Tennessee softball program since 2019, Bender has displayed an exceptional dedication community service during her time on Rocky Top. She has volunteered her time with several local organizations, including the Love Kitchen, Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries (KARM) and Keep Knoxville Beautiful. Bender's extensive list of service projects also includes participating in Read Across America and Read to Lead day with schools in Knox County. She was a member of the VOLeaders Academy Class of 2020-21, taking part in the year-long leadership curriculum that culminated with a cultural exchange trip to Belize in the summer of 2021. The group served alongside Hearts of Christ's Children Ministry and the YMCA of Belize.
Kayla Poynter, Graduate Student, Pitcher, Texas A&M
Poynter has spent several hours serving in the Brazos Valley in her time as an Aggie. A future teacher, she spends time volunteering with the REVved Up to Read program, where she visits elementary schools and reads books to the students. Poynter has participated in Texas A&M's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee canned food drive. She has also spent time with kids in the Bryan-College Station community, speaking about the importance of education, goal setting and encouraging them to get an education and plan for the future.