It's rewarding to volunteer

Brendan Maloney/UF Communications

Give kids a plastic syringe to paint with and the paint doesn’t always end up on the canvas, as Chloe Mann and her Gator teammates discovered.

Hi, sports world!

My team and I are about halfway into the SEC season, and we’re off to a great start. Being able to sweep nearly every opponent in conference play so far shows a great deal of growth and maturity on our part, I believe. We’re playing with more confidence, while at the same time still trying to improve every time we step onto the court.

I’ve been able to get more into a routine with school, volleyball and all my other extracurriculars. With the extra time and consistent off days, I’ve loved being able to volunteer more.

The past few weeks, a couple of teammates and I have gone to Shands Hospital to visit with kids in the infusion room and participate in a syringe-art service project called Caleb’s Pitch. We go around to the kids’ rooms and hold up blank canvases for them to paint. Instead of painting with a brush, the kids use plastic syringes to squirt paint onto the canvas (although sometimes with their aim, our faces end up being more of their canvases than the actual blank one).

I love being able to see the pure joy in the kids’ eyes from being taken away from whatever pain they’re experiencing to just being a normal kid having fun! Plus, the fact that they get to use syringes -- which normally have a negative connotation -- in a light and playful way is also really cool to see.

Whenever we go to leave, the kids always thank us for coming, but really it should be us thanking them for allowing us to share moments of pure happiness from the simplest of acts and for reminding us how blessed we are for simply being alive.

Also toward the start of the semester, one of the more unique things I was involved in was a miniseries with fellow UF student-athlete Patric Young. Pat came to me and my teammate Taylor Brauneis, asking if we would be a part of one of his documentary series called “Patric vs.”

He came up with this hilarious idea where he would go around and try to compete in a different sport in each series. Getting to watch a huge, 6-foot-9 basketball player look so uncomfortable rolling around trying to dig down balls and then try to dig me hitting at him with no block was highly amusing! But then it wasn’t too funny when he got to try blocking me, and all he had to do was stand at the net with his hands up.

Overall he did pretty well for a first-timer, especially once he got into his comfort zone after discovering that running a slide is basically the same footwork as a layup. Pat said just by watching us we made volleyball look so simple: bump, set, spike. But after an hour in our gym he had a newfound respect for what we do every day on the court.

I think it would be so fun if all the athletes at UF could try a different sport for a day. My first pick would be gymnastics -- then maybe lacrosse and football.

There’s still a few more months left in the season, and I’m looking forward to what new/crazy experiences my team and I get into next.

Thanks for reading and Go Gators!

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -- Dalai Lama