WINCHESTER, Va. - The Shenandoah University women's softball team recently spent an afternoon giving back to the community by volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club of the northern Shenandoah Valley.
The team spent its Groundhog Day afternoon at 'Power Hour', reading, playing games and helping the children with their homework.
The experience has been a positive for all involved.
"Working with the children is a great experience for our team," said sophomore Kaitlin Robinson. "I think it really shows how family-oriented we are because we all come together and have a lot of fun helping them with homework and playing games. It's a great feeling when the kids don't want us to leave, it makes us feel like we had an impact on them, or when some of the girls tell us they want to be softball players it really inspires us to continue being a good role model for the community."
Robinson's classmate, Morgan Coble, agrees. "We have gone a couple of times now and helping them with their homework and playing games with them is a great way to give back to the Winchester/Frederick County community that has supported us.
"Getting to see their smiling faces and seeing how excited they are to see us is worth it all."
This community service project has been especially rewarding to senior co-captain Shatora Lane, a Frederick County native. "The kids were so excited to see us," the Sherando H.S. graduate said. "It was a lot of fun to spend time with them and help them with their homework. I think some of them knew more about certain subjects than I did!"
Nearly the entire team participated, including those in graduate school.
"Working with the kids last week was such a great experience," said senior Brooke Over, who is in her first year as a Doctor of Pharmacy candidate. " In my life of balancing pharmacy school and softball, getting to hang out with the children was a great stress reliever. Just seeing the joy that came to their faces when you would read to them or pay attention to their stories was so fulfilling. I had so much fun with the children and would gladly spend more time with them."
For head coach Marlena Kotynski, the community service project fits perfectly with her overall vision for her team.
"We've volunteered at the boys and girls club in previous years, as well as this past fall," Kotynski said. "We plan to continue with this service opportunity. After the last visit, one of the directors told me that all the kids asked if the softball team could come back every day. It's a service that they actually get to see and feel the impact that they have as role models for some of the community youth by emphasizing the importance of school and then spending time with them doing crafts or playing games like a big sister."
The entire team plans on continuing its practice of volunteering at the club during the season.
"When we go into the club, you can just see their (the kids) faces brighten up," junior Amanda Litwin said. "I love that we make their day by being there and I really enjoy spending time with them."
Release courtesy of the Shenandoah sports information department.