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 2023 SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team is as follows:
Sania Mitchell, Graduate Student, Alabama
Mitchell leads the gymnastics team in community service hours, accumulating over 35 hours this year. She volunteers at organizations such as the We Care Family Practice Clinic, Skyland Elementary Day Care, RISE Center UA and Habitat for Humanity. Mitchell also volunteers each Wednesday at the Tuscaloosa Soup Kitchen. She is a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Health Education Promotion, where she has maintained a 4.0 postgraduate GPA. Mitchell also received the Crimson Tide's Lewis Each Courage Award for the 2022 season, which is the highest honor given to an Alabama gymnast.
Maddie Jones, Sophomore, Arkansas
Jones is one of two gymnastics representatives on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, who represents their fellow student-athletes and acts as a liaison to the University of Arkansas, the Athletic Department, the SEC and the NCAA. She has participated in the Tyson Food Truck Event, Cartwheels for Dyslexia, making craft kits at NWA Children's Hospital, the National Girls and Women in Sports Day Mini Clinic, and Salute to Veterans. Jones is also participating in the second season of the Gymbacks' Giveback Campaign, in which athletes have chosen causes close to their hearts to fundraise. Coming from a military family, Jones is advocating to raise funds for Bo's Blessings, an organization in Northwest Arkansas dedicated to "providing programs, support, and resources that help veterans transition back to a civilian life with their families and their community," as well as the Northwest Arkansas Children's Hospital.
Sophia Groth, Sophomore, Auburn
Groth and her team have been active in reading at multiple elementary schools and preschools throughout the school year these past two years. In addition, Groth and her teammates have done gymnastics demonstrations at area elementary schools, promoting the importance of active lifestyles. She has also served on leadership panels at elementary schools. In addition to her service to the local schools, Groth has played a significant role in local toy and food drives. She has participated in food drives to help feed fellow college students who have food insecurities over the last two school years. Groth also spearheaded a major toy drive in the Auburn area, supplying presents to the local organization Big House in December 2022. She has served on a Title IX panel as well as a gala that funds a local organization.
Chloi Clark, Junior, Florida
Clark volunteered more than 60 hours for community service events since fall of 2022. She participated in a field day for Noah's Endeavor. Clark wrapped and delivered shoes and socks as part of the Gator Tracks program, which distributed 400 shoes to Gainesville area youth in December of 2022. She was a frequent participant in the Lunch Buddies Mentor Program at Terwilliger Elementary School, serving as a role model for the youth of Gainesville. Clark also visited Oak Hall School as part of Gators Read and helped at kickoff for Girls on the Run. She contributed at many activities focused on mental health and serves as UF's 2022-23 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee Mental Health Chair. The recipient of the 2022 Gator Gymnastics' Most Improved honors, Clark was named to the 2021-22 Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll and the 2020-21 First-Year SEC Academic Honor Roll.
Haley de Jong, Senior, Georgia
As a senior leader of the Georgia GymDogs, de Jong has gone beyond her call of duty to the UGA and Athens community. She was a 2021 Georgia Leadership Academy Inductee and is a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Over the course of the last four years at the University of Georgia Haley has taken advantage of numerous volunteer opportunities, including Gymnastics Special Olympics, Lydia's Place, Athens Boys and Girls Club, the back to school event with Howard B. Stood Elementary School, and Operation Teammate.
Ashlyn LaClair, Senior, Kentucky
LaClair has recorded over 60 hours of community service in the Lexington area. She has volunteered with 14 different causes and organizations, including: God's Pantry, Amachi, Kentucky Children's Hospital, Southland Christian Church, Girls on the Run, Leestown Middle School, Samaritans Christmas Child Operations, Meals on Wheels, the Roots and Heritage Parade, Paws 4 the Cause, KEDC - Kentucky Educational Development Corporation, American Red Cross, Christian Appalachian Project, and Ronald McDonald House. A three-time member of the Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll, LaClair is a member of UK's Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). She is involved with the local non-profit I Am Second as well as Dam Worth It, a peer-led mental health awareness campus campaign. LaClair was named a Women's Collegiate Gymnastics Association (WCGA) All-America Scholar-Athlete in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
Sierra Ballard, Junior, LSU
Ballard is the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) representative for the LSU Gymnastics team, where she also serves on the special events committee. Her responsibility on the committee is to help organize events around campus for all student-athletes. Ballard is heavily involved in community service efforts around gymnastics and throughout the Baton Rouge community. This year, she sold raffle tickets for Dream Come True Foundation, made baskets for Basket of Hope for Our Lady of the Lake patients and families and food banks around the area. Ballard also participated in the Blue-Ribbon Soiree, an event that raises research money for prostate cancer, the Thankful Tiger drive, which donates school supplies for foster kids, and the Miracle Baseball League. She is heavily involved in Athletes for Hope, which is an organization that helps athletes around campus with mental health as well as the community through service and advocacy.
Adalayna Hufendiek, Senior, Missouri
Hufendiek volunteered more than 60 hours for community service events in her four years at the University of Missouri. She is an active participant in Playing 4 Hope, a local Columbia non-profit where student-athletes visit and spend time with children at the MU Children's hospital. Hufendiek was a frequent participant in various Columbia Public Schools programs, most recently spending time with students at the fall festival. She also visited the Ronald McDonald House contributing to the various needs around the house. Hufendiek is a two-time Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll member and WGCA Scholastic All-America member.