Julie Meyer, far left, Courtney Syrett and Allison Brown, as well as the rest of the Ole Miss softball team, visited the Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.
Jan. 23, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss softball team does not open its season until Feb. 7, but in many regards, the Rebels have already won the day.
In its trip to Memphis, Tenn., to visit the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital on Jan. 16 and the National Civil Rights Museum on Jan. 20, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the softball team participated in a pair of events greater than itself, and is the better for it. In the eyes of head coach Windy Thees, being a college student-athlete is more than just putting on a jersey and competing throughout a season. For Thees, student-athletes are role models who should be looked at for their work on and off the field.
“Being an Ole Miss Rebel, you’re automatically in the spotlight for what you do athletically and in the classroom,” Thees said. “Our athletes are looked up to by a lot of people. It was great to go somewhere where these kids are fighting battles a lot bigger than what we fight on the field. Whether it was one young man who just had brain surgery, others fighting to overcome diseases, or some kids who had been in the hospital for two weeks. To be a healthy athlete, you go there and realize what a gift you have each day just to be healthy, and also say, ‘Alright, I’m going to win this one for some of these kids who won’t be able to play sports in the future.’ ”
On Jan. 16, Ole Miss visited the children’s hospital and played games such as HedBanz, Uno and Connect Four with the kids, and also drew pictures with them with crayons. Half of the team was also able to tour one of the floors of the hospital and go room to room to say hello, give them an Ole Miss softball and put a smile on their faces.
“Some of the kids wanted to play, some just wanted to be held,” Thees said. “They were all ages, from babies all the way up to 16-18.”
“It was really rewarding,” said junior third baseman Allison Brown. “I used to do this kind of stuff in high school, but doing it here there is such a bigger purpose because you’re at a university now and you have ‘Ole Miss’ on your shirts. They see that and they know what that means. It makes it feel so much more special. You’re doing this for the university, it’s not just for yourself to do it. The biggest thing was seeing their faces light up when they saw who you were, even if they don’t watch softball or anything. They saw Ole Miss and that was cool.”
Brown worked at the game center part of the hospital with the kids and said it was wonderful to simply cheer them up and serve as an escape for the kids where they could be themselves and not have to think or talk about why they were there.
“I’m glad I’m doing something that’s bigger than myself,” Brown said. “It’s no longer just about the name on the back of my uniform. It’s about the name on the front. That’s who I’m representing. I’m representing this university, and for those kids to look at me and say, ‘Wow, that’s a great role model at a great university,’ and not just ‘a great individual.’ ”
Following their visit to the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the softball team visited the National Civil Rights Museum for training in preparation of their work at the famous museum on Martin Luther King Jr. Day four days later.
The team helped at the museum Monday with everything from keeping the flow of traffic running smoothly throughout the museum, to working ticket booths, to standing in front of exhibits making sure people didn’t sit on them or damage any of the actual exhibits the museum has to offer.
“Martin Luther King Day is such a special day all around the country, but especially in Memphis, because it’s right there at the Lorraine Motel,” Thees said. “I wanted our kids to see there are struggles people fight that are, again, bigger than what’s on the softball field. It was really great for our kids to go there.”
Brown agreed and said she also enjoyed helping the visitors, even if it was something as simple as giving directions or answering a question.
“It was very hectic,” Brown said. “But it was cool to see a bunch of different people coming together celebrating a person who has done so much for us.”
So while the season still sits two weeks away, the Rebel softball team has already recorded a pair of wins in events beyond the field, and has shown that at Ole Miss it’s more than just softball.
“It shows we care about the community, we can reach out to them and we have time for them also,” Brown said. “We’re not only consumed with softball. There are other priorities in our lives that we want people to see we care about.”
For the second straight year, Ole Miss' Deterrian Shackelford (Decatur, Alabama) has been nominated for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team®, which is one of the most coveted and prestigious off-... Read More [+]
Ole Miss baseball player Brady Bramlett was selected to represent the Southeastern Conference as a member of the NCAA Division I Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Bramlett's appointment... Read More [+]
The Ole Miss head track coach Brian O'Neal and assistant coach Greg Stringer opened up the Manning Center for the participants in Ole Miss' Horizons Summer Learning program on Wednesday (July 9).... Read More [+]
Mary Ashton Nall grew up around intercollegiate athletics, specifically college football. Her father, Hugh, played football at Georgia and coached at Ole Miss and Auburn. From competing in the NCAA... Read More [+]
Through the Rebel Relief Project, Ole Miss fans and area residents will have the opportunity to donate household and clothing items for tornado victims across Mississippi at various locations in... Read More [+]
The Ole Miss Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), is partnering with Purshoeing Joy to collect used shoes for children in Guatemala. SAAC members will be collecting shoes at Friday's (April... Read More [+]
The SEC Network will air every SEC spring football game with multiple viewing opportunities on both television and the network's digital platforms. All 12 spring football games will be carried live and in full on SEC Network + with additional... read more
Through the first seven spring practices, or three weeks since the start of spring practice on March 3, there does not appear to be any separation between sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade and junior college transfer Chad Kelly. Whether... read more
Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review March 17-23, 2015 Men's Basketball - Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. -... read more
The men's basketball team saw its run in the NCAA Tournament come to an end in the Round of 64 after a thrilling win in the First Four. The women's basketball team won two postseason WNIT games to continue its... read more
Junior left-hander Christian Trent and sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett picked up quality starts on the mound, and the offensive provided some timely hits, which proved to be a winning formula as Ole Miss claimed the weekend series over No. 1... read more
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A four-year starter at point guard, one of the most accomplished players in program history, senior Jarvis Summers saw his Ole Miss career come to an end, as did four of his fellow seniors in LaDarius White,... read more
From his five years at Cincinnati, three as an assistant coach and one each as associate head coach and interim head coach, head coach Andy Kennedy knows and has experienced the Xavier program first hand, having coached against the Musketeers... read more
Ole Miss has gone through a two-day turn twice, as well as a one-day turn when the Rebels played No. 23 Creighton and Cincinnati in back-to-back days at the Emerald Coast Classic, but they haven't gone through a turn quite... read more
Giant Killers come in many different shapes and forms in the NCAA Tournament. They are not just your teams from smaller and mid-major conferences, but also your lower-seeded power-conference teams. As defined by ESPN's Peter Keating and Jordan Brenner, Giants Killers... read more
March Madness reigned in Dayton, as 11th-seeded Ole Miss scored 62 second-half points to overcome a 17-point halftime deficit, rallying past 11th-seeded BYU 94-90 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday. The nation watched, and they reacted to... read more
Talking to members of the local media Sunday before leaving for Dayton on Monday, head coach Andy Kennedy and senior guard Jarvis Summers spoke of a familiarity with BYU, their First Four opponent, from watching the Cougars' 73-60 win at... read more